City boss ir­ri­tated as Aguero saga rum­bles on

New Straits Times - - Sport - MANCH­ESTER

PEP Guardi­ola sat with his arms folded, frus­tra­tion clearly build­ing in­side him. The Manch­ester City man­ager was field­ing an­other ques­tion about the seem­ingly un­cer­tain fu­ture of Ser­gio Aguero and could not dis­guise his dis­plea­sure.

“I spoke 10 times about that. Ten times. You know my opin­ion,” Guardi­ola said, snap­pily. “He is so happy. I am so happy. We are happy. 10 times I an­swer. No more please.”

Un­for­tu­nately for Guardi­ola, there’s lit­tle hope of the Aguero talk dy­ing down. Not when the striker is fu­elling the con­ver­sa­tion him­self.

Aguero had just scored two goals for the sec­ond straight game in City’s 5-1 win over Hud­der­s­field in the FA Cup on Wed­nes­day when he ad­dressed his fu­ture at a club where he is re­garded as a great.

De­spite procla­ma­tions from the club that they want him to stay, Aguero said he has yet to re­ceive such as­sur­ances in per­son.

“One thing is that the club of­fi­cially says it and an­other thing is to tell me,” Aguero said. “My in­ten­tion is to stay. The club can say what they want but in June they will have to meet with me.”

Aguero’s fu­ture is shrouded in doubt be­cause he lost his place in the team to new sign­ing Gabriel Je­sus, a 19-year-old Brazil striker.

For four straight games, Aguero started among the sub­sti­tutes, get­ting a few minutes here and there as Je­sus slot­ted seam­lessly into City’s at­tack and scored three goals.

It was an un­usual sit­u­a­tion for Aguero, one of the world’s most highly re­garded strik­ers.

He only got his place back in City’s team be­cause Je­sus broke a bone in his foot against Bournemouth, which will rule him out for most of the rest of the sea­son.

Aguero’s fu­ture will likely be sorted out in the off-sea­son, and he won’t be sat­is­fied with start­ing the 2017-18 cam­paign as City’s sec­ond­choice striker.

The re­turn of Aguero, how­ever, has co­in­cided with some strong at­tack­ing show­ings from City, who have scored 10 goals in their last two games — en­ter­tain­ing vic­to­ries over Monaco in the Cham­pi­ons League and then Hud­der­s­field.

Aguero is work­ing harder off the ball, some­thing Guardi­ola has de­manded of him, and demon­strat­ing his typ­i­cal po­tency in front of goal.

The Guardi­ola project looks to be in full swing, with the Span­ish coach declar­ing on Fri­day that City are fi­nally per­form­ing in the style he craves in all ar­eas of the field.

The build-up play from the back is smoother with his de­fend­ers mak­ing bet­ter choices in pos­ses­sion.

The de­ci­sion-mak­ing in mid­field is more de­ci­sive now that play­mak­ers David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne are play­ing more cen­trally.

The goals are flow­ing up front with Leroy Sane, Aguero and Ra­heem Ster­ling com­bin­ing well. Guardi­ola has set­tled on a 4-3-3 for­ma­tion that suits his play­ers.

“It’s (get­ting) much bet­ter and that makes me con­fi­dent,” Guardi­ola said. “We are far away from the first game in the Premier League.”

That was against Sun­der­land at Eti­had Sta­dium, and City needed an 87th-minute own-goal to scrape a 2-1 vic­tory.

Seven months later, the teams meet again to­day. It will be a good yard­stick as to City’s progress un­der Guardi­ola.

Ser­gio Aguero says he has not re­ceived private as­sur­ances from Manch­ester City that they want him to stay.

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