Mendy injury means Aguero or Jesus for Guardiola

20 November 2017 15:23

Choosing between Gabriel Jesus and Sergio Aguero is Pep Guardiola’s toughest decision at present with high-flying Manchester City but the star strikers will have to get used to spending time on the bench.

Aguero has 10 goals in 12 appearances across all competitions this season, during which time he has established himself as City’s all-time leading goalscorer.

The Argentina star looked on as an unused substitute as Brazilian team-mate Jesus joined him in double figures for the campaign by opening the scoring in Saturday’s 2-0 win at Leicester City, which preserved the Premier League leaders’ unbeaten record.

This run began with Guardiola using Aguero and Jesus in tandem but it is now a case of one or the other inside in-form wingers Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane.

“For me it is so tough to leave Gabriel or Sergio out, so tough,” the City boss said ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League match against Feyenoord, where a better result than Shakhtar Donetsk manage at Napoli will guarantee top spot in Group F.

“But we play with just one striker and I have to change something. There are a lot of games and they have to be ready and prepare well, especially sometimes when they are on the bench and the situation is not good – be ready to try to win the game.”

Guardiola made it clear his change of approach in attack is based solely upon losing full-back Benjamin Mendy to a knee ligament injury.

The former Monaco favourite made an instant impression at City with his lightning raids down the left flank, a factor that allowed Guardiola to select a narrow frontline.

Fabian Delph has deputised superbly for the absent France international over the past two months but does not provide the same kind of attacking threat, leaving Sane to supply the natural width.

“In that moment [when Aguero and Jesus played together] we had Mendy and when you have Mendy you [the left-back] play wide and the winger can go inside,” Guardiola explained.

“Without Mendy, Delph cannot do that and you have to go wide with Sane. That is the only reason why they don’t play together.”

City have already qualified for the last 16, leading to speculation Guardiola could hand European debuts to highly rated youngsters Brahim Diaz and Phil Foden – the latter playmaker having seen his stock rise as a star performer in England’s Under-17 World Cup triumph.

“They are two young players who I see in the training session every day they are ready,” the former Barcelona boss added. “If not, they would not be training every day with us.

“They have to have quality to be with us. It is not to have fun and be gentle with the guys from the academy.

“The skills are there, the qualities are there. What we can help them with is the speed. The lack of time to think is quicker in our training sessions. Phil has to fight the duels with Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and David Silva.

“They have had a lot of games and competitions coming up now and they have to be ready because sometimes a manager makes surprises.”

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Pogba no Gerrard yet, says Benitez

20 November 2017 09:06

Paul Pogba is yet to reach the levels of Steven Gerrard, according to the Liverpool great’s former manager Rafael Benitez.

Pogba made a spectacular return from two months on the sidelines with a hamstring injury as Manchester United came from behind to sweep aside Benitez’s Newcastle United 4-1 at Old Trafford on Saturday.

The France midfielder – who was the world’s most expensive player when he joined United from Juventus for £89.3m last year – brilliantly set up Anthony Martial’s equaliser before getting on the scoresheet himself in a man-of-the-match display.

Benitez praised the 24-year-old as a “great” player but insists he still has some way to go to match Gerrard’s exploits.

“No, they’re different. Stevie was a top-class player for so many years,” he said.

“He was very consistent and could make the difference in every game, with or without the ball.

“He was a top-class player. Pogba is a great player, but he still has to be consistent for years like Stevie was for 10 or 15 years.

“Pogba is not my player, so I don’t need to talk too much about him.

“He’s a great player, like the majority of the Manchester United players. But I’m concentrated on trying to improve my players.”

Pogba and United are back in action on Wednesday when Jose Mourinho’s side travel to face Basel in the Champions League.

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Guardiola will ´kill´ City stars if they get complacent

20 November 2017 03:47

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola warned his team he would “kill” anyone who got complacent after their flying start to the season.

City continued their Premier League dominance with a 2-0 win at Leicester City on Saturday seeing them maintain their eight-point lead at the top.

Guardiola’s men have won 11 of 12 league games, scoring 40 goals and conceding just seven.

The Spaniard said there was no chance of his team becoming complacent despite their stunning form.

“That is not going to happen because I am their manager,” Guardiola said.

“The team, that is not going to happen. I’ll kill them. Complacency doesn’t happen in my teams.

“They can play bad, teams are going to beat us, that happens.

“But if you see the team, they have the desire to have the ball and play. We are not a team that speculates about absolutely anything. That’s not going to happen.”

City host Feyenoord in the Champions League on Tuesday, having already sealed a spot in the last 16.

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Giampaolo promises more from ´extraordinary´ Sampdoria

19 November 2017 22:15

Sampdoria manager Marco Giampaolo believes his team is capable of continuing the impressive form that saw them stun Juventus 3-2 on Sunday.

Giampaolo’s men ambushed the champions in a scintillating second half at Stadio Luigi Ferraris, scoring all three of their goals in the space of 27 minutes.

The hosts did need to survive a few nervy seconds after Juve struck twice in stoppage time, but held on to maintain their perfect home record in the league.

And the former Cagliari and Catania boss is confident they can build on their current sixth spot.

“We have to ignore everything that is around us and focus only on our daily work,” Giampaolo told Sky Sport Italia.

“So far we have been extraordinary this season and today’s result was the icing on the cake. We will enjoy the moment without going overboard.

“We were organised in the first half, allowing Juve relatively little, while after the break we had moments of good football. At the end of the day, it would have been a terrible error to throw this away.”

Sampdoria’s next assignment is a trip to mid-table Bologna, before they return home to meet Pescara in the fourth round of Coppa Italia.

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Hughes backs Giggs for Wales job

19 November 2017 15:11

Mark Hughes has backed Ryan Giggs for the vacant Wales job and believes the Manchester United great could benefit from the experience.

Giggs had a four-game spell as interim boss at United in 2014 following David Moyes’ sacking, but he has failed to land a permanent managerial job despite links to a number of clubs since leaving his assistant role at Old Trafford in 2016.

Chris Coleman’s resignation as Wales coach has presented another opportunity and Hughes – himself formerly the manager of his country – thinks now could be the right time for Giggs to take the next step.

“I think [Giggs] would be a candidate, I think he’d be a good choice – I’d recommend him,” the Stoke City boss told the BBC.

“I know from my own personal experience of getting the Welsh job early in my career – it was my first job and I was still playing – they weren’t ideal circumstances if I’m honest looking back.

“But as a very young manager finding my way, finding my own beliefs in terms of how I wanted my teams to play, all that was a learning experience for myself and I found it invaluable.”

Wales failed to qualify for next year’s World Cup, finishing third in UEFA’s Group D, before Coleman departed ahead of his impending appointment at Sunderland.

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