Pep admits City don't practise penalties

LONDON • Pep Guardiola admitted his Manchester City players had not practised penalties before they missed two during the 1-1 Premier League draw at home with Everton on Saturday.

Kevin de Bruyne and Sergio Aguero both had spot-kicks saved by goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg before substitute Nolito's header earned a point for City.

For Aguero, it was his second miss of the week, after he failed to convert a penalty for Argentina during a 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat at home by Paraguay on Tuesday.

City have had eight penalties awarded this season, but have converted only four.

Guardiola, though, insisted he has bigger priorities than penalty practice as he attempts to get his team back to form.

Asked if his players had practised penalties, he said: "No. I don't have time to practise everything I want to practise.

"You can practise penalties in training, but in training, no one (a crowd) is there."

Guardiola made a superb start to his reign as City manager, winning his first 10 matches in charge.

However, his players have gone three games without a victory in all competitions, and face a daunting Champions League trip to his former club Barcelona on Wednesday.

It is far too early in the season to suggest that Guardiola is becoming desperate, but when, almost laughably, he sent on Vincent Kompany as a striker for the last few minutes it could only be interpreted as a sign of frustration.

The Spaniard said it was his responsibility to try and restore confidence to his players if that was an issue.

"I am here to try to make that happen," he said. "I try to analyse the reasons we don't win. Of course, the confidence and mood is much better when you win."

Despite the failure to beat Everton, Guardiola was happy with City's display as they enjoyed 72 per cent of the possession and had 19 shots at goal to the visitors' three.

Ronald Koeman, Everton's manager, called City "the best team I have played against as a coach".

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2016, with the headline 'Pep admits City don't practise penalties'. Print Edition | Subscribe