Hour-long Pep talk as City seek winning spark

Manchester City gave new manager Pep Guardiola 10 straight victories at the start of the season but have not won since late September.
Manchester City gave new manager Pep Guardiola 10 straight victories at the start of the season but have not won since late September.PHOTO: REUTERS

MANCHESTER • Pep Guardiola kept his Manchester City players in the dressing room for nearly an hour after the 1-1 draw with Southampton, as the club had gone five games without a victory, despite the result taking them back to the top of the Premier League.

The manager insisted that he was not venting his anger on a squad that started his first season in charge at Eastlands with 10 consecutive victories.

But he was clearly frustrated by a loss of form that has seen them beaten at Tottenham and held at home by Everton and, now, Southampton, in their last three league outings.

"The red wine was good and I took a little bit longer with my glass," joked Guardiola, who has also seen his team draw 3-3 at Celtic after losing 0-4 away to former club Barcelona in the Champions League during their current run.

"But we were together and spoke but nothing special - just about what the situation is and that we now have to try and go up from this situation.

Kelechi Iheanacho salvaged a point for City and cancelled out a first-half opening goal from Nathan Redmond. "I was a football player, I know this can happen. You are able to win 10 times in a row, then you're not able to win for five times," Guardiola added.

"We have to accept that when that happens, accept you have to return to what you were doing before. But I'm not a guy to get angry. I have to discover the reason why this has happened."

Guardiola's mood cannot have been helped by the fact that a bad error by England defender John Stones - one similar to that made by goalkeeper Claudio Bravo in the midweek loss to Barcelona - gave Southampton their goal.

The Spaniard, however, insisted he had no problem with such mistakes.

"People can talk about an own goal at Tottenham, Claudio in Barcelona or two missed penalties against Everton but it's not about that," said Guardiola.

"It is easy for a manager to say that excuse but it is because of something more, about the team, about how you react in these situations.

"Right now, in this moment, we're just not in that rhythm we had before."

Guardiola can start that improvement in the League Cup local derby visit to Manchester United tomorrow although it seems likely that both he and opposite number Jose Mourinho will rest key players.

"We will see after the players' recovery, then decide if it's necessary to make rotations or not," he said of his team selection.

"It's important to change our dynamic from the previous games. Everything influences you. If you can play well or badly, it affects your mentality, so we are working on it."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 25, 2016, with the headline 'Hour-long Pep talk as City seek winning spark'. Print Edition | Subscribe