Football: Guardiola tips City as comeback 'heroes'

Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola believes that his men will rediscover their confidence once they start winning.
Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola believes that his men will rediscover their confidence once they start winning.PHOTO: AFP

Crucial for title holders to avoid defeat at Saints, ahead of Liverpool's visit on Thursday

LONDON • Pep Guardiola believes his Manchester City "heroes" have what it takes to turn things around after two straight English Premier League defeats.

"If you believe I will doubt my players, you are completely wrong," the manager said at a press conference ahead of today's league trip to Southampton. "They are incredible. I never point the finger at one person, never.

"They are heroes for me, nothing is going to change.

"We need to analyse what we have done good and bad and analyse more (going) forward."

The 47-year-old faces a testing week that could prove crucial in arresting his team's slump and reviving the defence of their title. Lose to the Saints today and third-placed City, with 44 points, could face a double-digit gap after hosting leaders Liverpool on Thursday.

Guardiola, however, believes that his men will rediscover their confidence once they start winning.

"We are not in good form and winning will help us a lot. (It) will not come from above. It will come if we do something and that's what we have to try to do.

MOVING AHEAD

I will help them and to help each other and we will come back (to) who we are. We will move forward. I live more in the future.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Manchester City manager, believing that his men will rediscover their confidence once they get back to winning matches again.

"We have belief, whether we are in a winning situation or a losing one. It is a big challenge for me, I wouldn't say I like the situation but I know it's common in football and I like to handle it.

"I will help them and to help each other and we will come back (to) who we are. We will move forward. I live more in the future."

City's sudden collapse, with three defeats in their last four league games, has been blamed mainly on the absence of injured holding midfielder Fernandinho, the continued injury problems of left-back Benjamin Mendy and the recent loss of form of right-back Kyle Walker.

All of which begs the question as to whether the club will invest in the transfer window next month.

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Guardiola has always insisted he will do no business in this window, waiting until the summer to strengthen a squad that, until the current run, looked deep enough to cope with any number of injuries or loss of form.

"When we created the squad at the beginning of the season, it was not to go to the January window except if we have problems," the Spaniard said last month.

Now, City appear to have "problems" and there is a distinct possibility that they will move to stem the current "crisis" by signing either midfield cover or a new left-back.

The latest rumour yesterday was that they have already inquired about Atletico Madrid holding midfielder Thomas Partey.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, who will captain Southampton today and who played under Guardiola at Bayern Munich, feels that his former boss' obsessive attention to detail is a double-edged sword. It has brought much success but could also be the reason why the champions have suffered a slump.

The 23-year-old Danish midfielder, who joined the Saints in 2016, admires Guardiola but thinks sometimes his analysing of a match is too intense even for the Spaniard.

"He is the most demanding person, not only coach, that I have ever met," Hojbjerg said.

"We sit on the bus after we have won and he sits on the bus watching the game and then he is in his office with two laptops and a television (set) and he is analysing.

"Maybe that's what makes him the greatest. But also maybe that is what makes him lose, because it is too much, he drowns."

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 30, 2018, with the headline 'Guardiola tips City as comeback 'heroes''. Print Edition | Subscribe