Saturday, October 23, 2021

Me and Bravo must improve, admits Guardiola

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Pep Guardiola admitted on Friday that he and under-fire goalkeeper Claudio Bravo must shoulder their share of responsibility for Manchester City’s disappointing start to the Premier League season.

Last Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing at Everton saw City drop 10 points behind leaders Chelsea, a state of affairs hardly anticipated when Guardiola arrived at the Etihad Stadium in the close season.

Bravo, signed from Barcelona to replace England’s Joe Hart in August, has received a large amount of criticism for his shaky performances and Guardiola’s decision to sign him has been widely questioned.

“You’ve got to accept it. It’s the manager’s job, the player’s job, so accept it,” Guardiola told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s home game with in-form Tottenham Hotspur.

“We have to do well in both boxes and be stronger. We will be stronger in front, be stronger in back. I expect more from him and from myself too.

“But our position is not about the goalkeeper. It would be easy for me if it were about that.”

City hope they will receive a boost from the arrival of £27 million ($33.3 million, 31.2 million euros) Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, who has completed the paperwork over his transfer from Palmeiras.

Although the move was agreed prior to the beginning of the Premier League campaign, the 19-year-old was only officially registered to play for his new club this week.

While Guardiola believes the teenager has a great career ahead of him, the City manager does not want to raise expectations.

“He is fit, he is ready to be involved in the squad,” said Guardiola. “He is a young player, 19, so we cannot think he will solve our problems.

“He will help us. He will have all the time to get involved. It will be easier if he could have arrived at the beginning of the season. Now is the middle with not too many training sessions.

“He has quality. All the strikers try to help us and Gabriel is going to help us now. He is going to help us because he is young. We are patient. He is going to create his career here.”

– ‘Fight for everything’ –
Guardiola also spoke about a dinner meeting he held with star striker Sergio Aguero and his representatives in Manchester this week, which was caught by photographers.

Aguero is understood to have signed a contract extension a year ago that ties him to the club until 2020 although, strangely, no announcement was made at the time.

Now, with City struggling for form and Aguero not looking at his lethal best, reports have surfaced suggesting City might be prepared to sell their talismanic striker.

Guardiola, however, said the meeting was only a social event and that Aguero’s future was not discussed.

“No. We didn’t speak about the contract,” he said.

“He has already a long contract here. He has a lot of money and wanted to invite his coach to have dinner. That is what it is.”

Despite another turbulent week in his new job, Guardiola insisted he has no regrets about taking the City role and is still relishing the challenge of transforming the club into a European force.

“The expectations are what it is because of my past,” said the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach.

“What I can say is I am very happy in Manchester, feel very welcome and well treated and want to fight for everything.”

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