Pep calls on City fans to end impasse

LONDON • Pep Guardiola called on Manchester City fans to end their dispute with Uefa, to stop booing the Champions League anthem and to fill the Etihad Stadium, on a night when his team suggested that they could progress to the latter stages of the competition.

Sergio Aguero scored a hat-trick and his replacement Kelechi Iheanacho added a fourth in stoppage time as City opened their Group C campaign with a classy 4-0 win over Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday in a game that had been postponed due to heavy rain.

City attracted an attendance of 30,270 in their rearranged match, while their capacity for European matches is 53,000.

While the crowd was affected by the game being rescheduled and the fact that half of the German contingent had gone home, Guardiola has arrived at a club who have not always embraced the competition.

The jeering of the anthem is in response to controversies featuring City, from the abuse of former player Mario Balotelli by Porto fans, to the heavy fine imposed upon them for breaking Financial Fair Play rules and their behind-closed- doors game away to CSKA Moscow.

Guardiola insisted that the impasse must end, particularly if City are to win the competition.

"They must forget what happened in the past," he said.

"All we can do is play better every time and then people will say, 'I spent 90 minutes there and I had fun'. We need the support and the stadium full to compete against the best.

"Today the stadium is not completely full so the only thing we can do is play well so the people at home say, 'Wow, next time I will be there'. Coming here in three or four weeks are the best football players ever with Luis Suarez and Neymar and Lionel Messi and Barcelona, and we have to enjoy it."

Guardiola was generally happy with his team's performance but felt that Aguero, despite taking his tally for the season to nine goals, needed to put more defensive effort off the ball.

"He has to know that behind there is a team that's going to help him, if he's going to help, and that is what I want to convince him," said the Spaniard.

Borussia coach Andre Schubert acknowledged the 24-hour delay had inconvenienced his team.

"We've not been very happy the last two, three days. Everything's run against us," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2016, with the headline 'Pep calls on City fans to end impasse'. Print Edition | Subscribe