The Sunday Mail
PEP GUARDIOLA has issued a warning to his Manchester City players ahead of the visit to Crystal Palace, while taking one of his stars to task over their post-match analysis of the midweek Champions League defeat at Tottenham Hotspur.
The City manager rebutted Ilkay Gundogan’s claims his team-mates lacked bravery last Tuesday night after seeing Sergio Aguero miss an early penalty.
But Guardiola is, nevertheless, cautious especially as Roy Hodgson’s side inflicted City’s only home league defeat of the season in December.
“We knew it weeks ago, how it would be between these important games,” said Guardiola of the trip to Palace.
“Selhurst Park is always difficult, not just because of the stadium, but the quality of the players they have in all departments.
“They’ve done so well, 11 points clear of relegation, they’ve had incredible results, quality players, one of the teams with the best quality.
“Roy Hodgson is an experienced manager with a lot of different countries, he knows how to handle these situations. Nobody felt he could stay up last season and he did it, and he’s doing the same this season. There are six games left, we know what we are playing for and we are going to prepare well.”
Gundogan’s midweek outburst, in an interview with German television, clearly struck a nerve with Guardiola, who returned several times yesterday to the subject of how well he felt his side played against Mauricio Pochettino’s team. And, with Tottenham visiting the Etihad twice this week – for Wednesday’s Champions League second leg and Saturday’s league game – the City manager was intent on making a psychological point.
“I don’t agree with him. Absolutely not,” said Guardiola of Gundogan. “There are games when we concede a goal and we are not there, but in this case we conceded a goal and nothing happened. Especially in the second half it was under control.
“Of course we want to do well, especially in the Champions League, but in that case in this specific game I don’t think I agree.
“He can say whatever he wants. I like when they express what they believe, but it’s happened many times in my career in specific games when they lost a little control.” – Guardian