Guardi­ola de­mands more af­ter City put Ful­ham to the sword

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Premier League - By James Ducker at the Eti­had Sta­dium

Sheikh Man­sour bin Zayed al-Nahyan ad­dressed Manch­ester City sup­port­ers for only the sec­ond time since he bought the club 10 years ago this month. “It feels that we are only half­way up our Ever­est,” the bil­lion­aire said as he re­flected on the past decade and, spell­ing out his vi­sion for the fu­ture, de­clared that there was “much more to win”.

For op­po­nents, com­ing to the Eti­had must in­vari­ably feel like try­ing to scale a treach­er­ous moun­tain in re­lent­lessly suf­fo­cat­ing con­di­tions. Ful­ham be­came the lat­est to more or less ac­cept de­feat at base camp. Pep Guardi­ola had said his team would get fully up to speed af­ter the in­ter­na­tional break, and so they are.

Bernardo Silva was the pick of a bril­liant bunch, David Silva marked his 350th game for City with his 50th goal in the Premier League and ru­mours of Leroy Sane’s demise have, ev­i­dently, been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated. Re­stored to the team af­ter re­cent crit­i­cism, the Ger­many winger (right) capped a mem­o­rable week af­ter be­com­ing a fa­ther to a baby girl with a goal.

The only slight dis­ap­point­ment for Guardi­ola was that his side squan­dered so many chances and Ser­gio Aguero will re­quire as­sess­ment be­fore Wed­nes­day’s Cham­pi­ons League tie against Lyon about be­ing sub­sti­tuted early in the sec­ond half with a sore an­kle.

“Three-nil is a good re­sult but we cre­ated a lot of chances to score five, six, seven goals and we have to be more clin­i­cal be­cause the con­tenders are so tough and the goal dif­fer­ence is im­por­tant,” the City man­ager said.

A word or two on the man-of-the­match, Bernardo, first. His touch and qual­ity has never been in doubt but he has now ad­justed to the phys­i­cal­ity of the Premier League. City’s sec­ond goal was a clear case in point.

This time last year, the Por­tu­gal play­maker would prob­a­bly have been knocked over when Ste­fan Jo­hansen tried to barge him out of the way as they chal­lenged for the ball near the right bye­line. But it was Bernardo who won this duel, out­muscling the Ful­ham mid­fielder, and then show­ing aware­ness to turn and feed Aguero.

The Ar­gen­tine’s shot was de­flected into the path of Silva, who con­trolled on his chest be­fore ri­fling home off the bar. “It is al­most im­pos­si­ble to be more pleased as a man­ager with him,” Guardi­ola said of Bernardo. “I don’t for­get the be­hav­iour he had last season when he didn’t al­ways play. He is a good ex­am­ple to all the oth­ers.” City’s sec­ond goal was scored af­ter 22 min­utes and al­ready by then there was no way back for Ful­ham. If you come here you have to at least make your­self com­pet­i­tive. That does not in­volve play­ing care­less passes deep in your own half less than two min­utes in that are just ask­ing to be pun­ished. But that is what Jean Michael Seri did, turn­ing over the ball with a fee­ble pass in­tended for Odoi

that Fer­nand­inho in­ter­cepted. The Brazil­ian surged for­ward and squared for Sane – with a clear point to prove af­ter his omis­sion against New­cas­tle – to tap home.

“Even when he didn’t play, we never doubted Leroy’s qual­ity,” Guardi­ola said. “At his age, some­times th­ese things hap­pen – a lit­tle bit up and down but I’m de­lighted for his per­for­mance.”

Ful­ham paid the price for back­ing off and giv­ing fast, skil­ful play­ers too much time and space. Ryan Sesseg­non’s in­sis­tence on stand­ing off Ra­heem Ster­ling was baf­fling, while his po­si­tion­ing was sus­pect through­out. Had Ster­ling not been so waste­ful in front of goal, the dam­age could have been more se­vere. “This will be a huge learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence [for Ryan]”, said Ful­ham man­ager Slav­isa Jokanovic.

Twice Ful­ham were in­debted to keeper Marcus Bet­tinelli for shut­ting out Ster­ling. The first was a par­tic­u­larly dis­ap­point­ing miss. Bernardo showed out­ra­geous skill to spin away from Seri and Kevin McDon­ald be­fore re­leas­ing Ster­ling, whose shot was knocked on to the cross­bar by the vis­i­tors’ No1.

Eder­son, the City goal­keeper, twice de­nied An­dre Schur­rle but Ful­ham were very vul­ner­a­ble de­fen­sively. The sec­ond half was only two min­utes old when Aguero pow­ered down City’s right, with Sesseg­non in no-man’sland, past Al­fie Maw­son and squared for Ster­ling to score from a yard out. This time the Eng­land for­ward could not miss. City oozed con­trol and the only blem­ish for Bernardo came late on when he blazed over from 10 yards.

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