Mahrez keen to improve after finding his feet

Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez (in blue) scored in their 3-0 midweek League Cup win at Oxford United. It was his third goal in two games.
Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez (in blue) scored in their 3-0 midweek League Cup win at Oxford United. It was his third goal in two games.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Riyad Mahrez has said that he is slowly becoming accustomed to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola's unique demands and hopes to play a part in the team's home Premier League game against Brighton today.

The Algeria winger, signed for £60 million (S$107 million) from Leicester in pre-season, has made a relatively subdued start to life at the Etihad with just two starts in City's six league games to date.

Guardiola has spoken of players needing time to adapt to his demanding style of play and, in the case of Mahrez, there has also been the upheaval of joining a new club.

But, after scoring twice after coming off the bench in last weekend's emphatic 5-0 victory at Cardiff - his first goals since moving to City - Mahrez is on a high.

"The manager has helped me a lot and, in the last two weeks, I have felt a lot better," said the 27-year-old. "You can see that on the pitch. I never complain, I just work hard in training, and it's paying off now. But I have to keep going - scoring is not a final thing."

He is not the first senior City player to have struggled, at first, with Guardiola's intense approach to the game in which players have to pull their weight defensively, whatever their attacking talents.

Most famously, the club's record scorer Sergio Aguero has spoken openly of how it took his time to adapt his own game after Guardiola took over.

But, with Mahrez starting, and scoring again, in the 3-0 midweek League Cup victory at Oxford United, it would appear he is winning that particular battle.

Guardiola offered an insight into that process of adjustment when, following the recent victory, he spoke about in-form Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva, who has started this campaign brilliantly after struggling at times last season.

"In the beginning, it was a little bit difficult," said Guardiola.

"Bernardo came from France to England and, even for me, I needed a period to know, to understand a little bit about the way we wanted to play and in the way that we are aggressive without the ball. Sometimes we need more time.

"It has happened a little bit with Riyad... but he is going to come back the same, like we saw with Leicester, or with Bernardo right now."



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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 29, 2018, with the headline 'Mahrez keen to improve after finding his feet'. Subscribe