GUARDIOLA GETS TESTY
City boss irritated as Aguero saga rumbles on
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.