Captain Vincent Kompany cannot expect an automatic place in the Manchester City side when he returns from injury, manager Pep Guardiola has warned.
But Guardiola also says neither John Stones nor Nicolas Otamendi, who have impressed in the Belgian’s absence in central defence, will retain their positions by default.
The influential Kompany will soon be back in contention after suffering a thigh injury in last season’s Champions League semi-final loss to Real Madrid. His imminent availability points to a selection headache for Guardiola, but the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach insists that is more of an issue for the players than him.
Guardiola said: “For me, when he’s ready, how difficult [will it be]? Absolutely nothing. They have to compete with each other and we’ll see on the pitch what is the best for that game. That is the best way to arrive in April or May with a chance to fight to win the titles.” Jose Mourinho wants Paul Pogba to forget his world-record price tag and show Manchester United his true quality.
A summer of discussion bore fruit five weeks ago when the open secret of the 23-year-old’s Old Trafford return from Juventus was made official. United paid an eye-watering £89m to bring back a player who left them four years earlier in search of first-team football, with a further £4.25m due if certain targets are met – a price tag that appeared to weigh heavily in the disappointing defeats by Manchester City and Feyenoord.
Mourinho had expected the Frenchman’s tail-off after his bright start to life at United, and now wants him to block out the background noise that comes with his status.
Mourinho said: “I just want Paul to forget [the fee] and to play his football. It’s normal that after the first game he has a little decrease, but I am full of trust with him because I know the player he is.” Mauricio Pochettino claims he has to be cruel to be kind with Tottenham’s young players after accusing them of lacking passion against Monaco on Wednesday.
Spurs lost their opening Champions League encounter 2-1 at Wembley and afterwards Pochettino criticised his side for their defensive errors and poor attitude.
It was an unusual reaction from Pochettino, who rarely questions the application of his squad and has always been eager to champion the worth of his younger talents.
“I was a person that liked the reality, that they never lied to me,” Pochettino said. “If I was s***, I was s***. But I need to know sometimes because when you are young, you need to know the reality.
“And sometimes you need people to say, ‘Hey, come on, what happened with you?’”