Guardiola: City ready to play on without Aguero
MANCHESTER City manager Pep Guardiola was relaxed about the possibility of losing star forward Sergio Aguero to suspension after television footage appeared to show him elbowing West Ham United’s Winston Reid on August 28.
Aguero could face retrospective action by the Football Association, including suspension, if the incident during City’s 3-1 win is judged to have been deliberate.
That would rule him out of City’s next game, the eagerly-awaited derby match at Manchester United’s at Old Trafford home field on September 10.
“I didn’t see it,” said Guardiola of the incident at Eastlands following a win that left City top of the table on goal difference.
“I am new here so I don’t know how it works,” the Spaniard added. “I didn’t see so I cannot comment. Hopefully nothing happens. If it happens, we accept and adapt. If we lose him, we lose him. We are going to play with 11.”
Two goals from Raheem Sterling and one from Fernandinho clinched a fifth win in as many games under Guardiola’s management, although a header from Michail Antonio – called up into the England squad for the first time on August 28 – brought West Ham back to 2-1 and provided City with some anxious moments.
However, for all the changes former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola has made at his new club in fewer than two months, the form of Sterling has been most startling change following a difficult debut season with the club and a terrible European Championship campaign with England in France.
“What have I done to him? Nothing,” said Guardiola. “I have tried to do the best for all the players.
“Raz [Sterling] has scored two goals, was good, but the games before was more brilliant than today [Augsut 28].
“Today in the first half he scored a goal but didn’t win too many defensive duels. Second half he was better, but of course we are so pleased.
The game also offered a rare chance for Samir Nasri, who appeared to be surplus to requirements under City’s new management, to come on as a substitute and make an impact against West Ham.
“Yeah, it depends on the player but he can play,” said Guardiola when asked if the Frenchman still had a future at the club.
Should City be without Aguero for the derby game, there is considerable consolation in the fact that they will have three big pre-season signings – Leroy Sane, Ilkay Gundogan and goalkeeper Claudio Bravo – available for selection in their first meeting of the season with Jose Mourinho’s club.
“Of course we can do better,” said Guardiola. “No doubt about that. But we are just one and a half, two months here.
“We created many chances so we deserved to win clearly with more goals. The performance is good. We need Ilkay and Sane and all the guys because the guys who play today cannot play every three days.”
West Ham manager Slaven Bilic had no complaints about Aguero’s alleged elbow on Reid, saying he did not see the incident, and with so many injured players unavailable at Eastlands, took some consolation from the performance.
“With so many players we are missing, you have to praise the team,” he said.
“Especially in the second half. We can’t play much better than that when you’re missing six, seven, eight top players and you’re playing against them [City].” –
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero (front) vies with West Ham United defender James Collins during a match at Etihad Stadium on August 28. City won, 3-1, but Aguero was cited for an alleged elbowing.