December 2, 2021

Guardiola unconcerned by poor City start

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Pep Guardiola says he has no concerns as Manchester City sit mid-table in the Premier League with a win, a defeat and a draw from their first three matches.

Leeds took a point off City in their clash at Elland Road on Saturday, with Rodrigo levelling the match in the 59th minute after Raheem Sterling opened scoring in the first half.

City are now 11th on the table with only four points, but Guardiola says it is far too early to be concerned about their position.

“I know the situation that we are, I know what we come from this season. As a manager I’m satisfied with what they have done so far,” Guardiola said.

Rodrigo pounces on Ederson's error to equalise after an hour on Saturday
Image: Rodrigo pounces on Ederson’s error to equalise after an hour on Saturday

When asked about his side’s hopes of keeping up with defending champions Liverpool, Guardiola replied: “I’m not going to start after three games to think about if they’re are going to win the league or if they’re going to take a lot of advantage. It’s what it is.

“I know when we finish the last one, I know when we come back this season with the players that we have and, as a manager, I’m satisfied for what they have done so far. We had to settle a few things, still we are a little bit away at the best that we can do. Unfortunately we dropped five points.”

City had enough chances early in the first half to have put the result beyond doubt, but Leeds grew in both confidence and stature after riding an early storm and created plenty of chances themselves.

“It was an entertaining game, a good game,” he added. “It was two teams trying to win from minute one to 90 minutes. We had good moments, the first 30 minutes, but [we should have] made a bigger margin than the [final] result.

Leeds' substitutes had a decisive impact on the game in the second half
Image: Leeds’ substitutes had a decisive impact on the game in the second half

“But Leeds had their moments because they are an incredible team, a fantastic team.

“They destroyed the Championship last season and have done so good so far, but in the last 10 minutes we were there, trying to win. It was a good game.”

Having ridden the storm, Leeds grew into the contest and hauled themselves level in the 59th minute.

Ederson made a hash of his attempt to punch clear Kalvin Phillips’ corner and Rodrigo turned home the loose ball from close range.

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Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa admits they found it difficult against Manchester City but they had their moments in the match

The City ‘keeper made amends soon after when pushing Rodrigo’s goalbound header onto the crossbar as Leeds looked the more likely to find a winner.

“It was possible to win the game, but it wouldn’t have been fair to have won,” said Leeds boss Marcelo Bielsa. “We had to put on an immense physical effort to be able to be on even terms or slightly better than Manchester City for half the game. We had to survive the beginning of the first half and the end of the second half.

“If you watch when Guardiola made a defensive change when Fernandinho comes on, this is when they started to impose themselves on the game once more. It was a very intelligent substitution and it had a big influence on the game.”

‘We gave them too much respect early on’

Kalvin Phillips believes Leeds were good value for their point in the end
Image: Kalvin Phillips believes Leeds were good value for their point in the end

Leeds midfielder Kalvin Phillips was screened out of the game in the opening 20 minutes with City dominating, but a change in personnel at half-time enabled the hosts to get a foothold – and Guardiola’s side have now failed to win consecutive Premier League games for the first time since December 2018.

Phillips told Sky Sports: “A lot of the play goes through me so they looked to catch me out – they managed to do that in the first half. It was hard work.

“We know they’re a very good offensive team but we know they have weaknesses defensively. I think the second half, we came out on top and had a few chances which you don’t really get when you play good teams. We’re happy to get a point on the board in a contest against a very good side.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Leeds’ draw with Manchester City

“We gave them a little bit too much respect in the first 20 but we came out second half, made a couple of tackles and counter-attacks. I think we did well as City were always going to come here wanting to win and we never want to lose at home. We’re very attacking and so are they, so it was end-to-end stuff. It was hard work at times but we did well as a team.”

‘Mistakes keep creeping in’

Sky Sports’ Micah Richards:

“I watch a lot of City games, normally I’m very positive about how expansive they are, but there seems to be a lot of defensive mistakes creeping into their game. It keeps happening week-in, week-out. If they want to be challenging for the top, you’ve got to eradicate them.

“They’ve spent a lot of money on defenders and we know it’s needed rectifying at the back. We’ve seen Joao Cancelo get bought and Nathan Ake not playing today. I just hope there’s progress this time with Ruben Dias. You don’t just want to be throwing money at the problem all the time.

“Pep’s a great coach and he needs to coach some of these players. Tell them what’s going wrong so it’s disheartening to see when someone doesn’t do well for a year, another player is bought for £50m. That’s what I don’t want to see anymore.”

What’s next?

After the international break, Leeds host Wolves on the Monday Night Football on October 19; kick-off 8pm.

Manchester City host Arsenal on Saturday October 17, live on Sky Sports, in the Premier League; coverage starts at 5pm with kick-off at 5.30pm.