MISS­ING IN­GRE­DI­ENT

Guardi­ola ad­mits missed chances are pulling back City

New Straits Times - - Sport -

MANCH­ESTER

SHARPER fin­ish­ing is all that is re­quired to take Manch­ester City to the next level, man­ager Pep Guardi­ola said af­ter his side’s 1-1 draw with Liver­pool.

Guardi­ola’s cav­a­lier ap­proach came un­der scru­tiny af­ter City fell to a 3-1 de­feat at Monaco last week that saw them elim­i­nated from the Cham­pi­ons League on away goals af­ter a 6-6 ag­gre­gate draw.

Ser­gio Aguero’s 69th-minute equaliser meant City emerged with a point from Sun­day’s ding­dong bat­tle with Liver­pool, but Guardi­ola said his for­wards’ lack of ruth­less­ness was hold­ing the team back.

“When you score goals, af­ter that the game is in our hands and you have more con­trol,” he said.

“We have clear chances in front of the goal­keeper and we don’t score goals. That’s why you can­not com­pete with the top teams.

“To achieve that tar­get, you have to be clin­i­cal.”

Aguero’s strike, from Kevin De Bruyne’s su­perb right-wing cross, can­celled out for­mer City player James Mil­ner’s 51stminute penalty.

City squan­dered a glut of chances late on, with Aguero par­tic­u­larly cul­pa­ble, but de­spite iden­ti­fy­ing his side’s profli­gacy as a key fail­ing, Guardi­ola said there was noth­ing he could do to im­prove it.

“In my ca­reer I was a foot­ball player 11 years and I scored 11 goals. One goal a year,” he said with a smile.

“So can you imag­ine what ad­vice I can say to Ser­gio and the other guys about scor­ing goals? I don’t think so.

“I think the man­agers can (coach) the de­fen­sive, the high press­ing, the build-up. Ev­ery man­ager has his own things.

“But the box is the box. How you de­fend one cross is the qual­ity be­cause you are good at head­ers. When you score a goal it’s be­cause you have that tal­ent.”

That City avoided de­feat also owed much to an alert de­fen­sive dis­play by oft-crit­i­cised cen­tre­back John Stones, who pro­duced two im­por­tant blocks ei­ther side of half-time.

“John Stones has more per­son­al­ity than all of us here to­gether in this room. More b***s than ev­ery­one here,” Guardi­ola told re­porters at the Eti­had Sta­dium.

“I love him. Un­der pres­sure, the peo­ple crit­i­cise him, so I am de­lighted to have John, with all the huge amount of mis­takes he has.”

Guardi­ola said City’s en­ter­pris­ing dis­play, so soon af­ter their dis­ap­point­ment at Monaco, made it “one of (his) hap­pi­est days as a man­ager.”

“More than ever I want to help this club,” he added.

“I don’t know if I will be able to do that, but I am will­ing to help this club, if they want to stay with me, in the next years to make the next step for­ward.” AFP

REUTERS PIC

Manch­ester City’s Ser­gio Aguero (right) scores in their Premier League match against Liver­pool at the Eti­had Sta­dium on Sun­day.

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