Football: No place for sulkers, warns Guardiola ahead of Spurs game

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during a match at Anfield, Liverpool, on Oct 7, 2018.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during a match at Anfield, Liverpool, on Oct 7, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Pep Guardiola will not hesitate to deal with prima donnas, after warning his Manchester City players that they must retain the correct attitude in training even if omitted from the starting XI or there will be a "big problem".

The City manager insisted that while there was currently no issue with any sulkers in team, he was clear that anyone left out had to take it professionally, given the embarrassment of riches in his squad.

"The guys who don't play deserve to play - it's always like this," he said. "When they are training in a bad way, they are out of the selection. When they are not selected, they are not happy; after the game, they are not happy.

"But they have to come back happy for the training session, no other solution. If they have bad faces, moods or want to show how disappointed they are, they are not going to play."

City travel to Wembley to face Tottenham in tomorrow evening's Premier League game and the Spaniard believes it is a five-horse title race, with Spurs right in the mix.

"For the last five or six years, they are always there (at top). They cannot invest in players because of the incredible stadium they built - it's a lot of money," he said of Mauricio Pochettino's side.

"(They are a) top side. I know how strong they are after my first defeat (in the 2016-17 season). Last season, we did well in both games (winning both), but they've got a good manager and good players."

Unlike City, cross-town rivals Manchester United do not have the luxury of squad rotation, despite slumping to their fifth defeat in 13 games in the midweek Champions League loss to Juventus.

United manager Jose Mourinho has no choice but to keep his faith in Romelu Lukaku due to a lack of options up front - Alexis Sanchez is injured - and the Portuguese is hoping that the striker will come good against his former club Everton at Old Trafford today.

"I always feel the next game is the game. One day, it will be, he will score, and his confidence levels will be back to normal," said Mourinho, who is backing the Belgian to end his eight-game goal drought.

In London, Unai Emery implored his Arsenal players to begin matches with more urgency as they head to Crystal Palace biding for their 12th successive victory today.

The Gunners' streak is their best run in 11 years as they chase the club record of 14 straight wins in all competitions, set in 1987.

But Emery wants his side to be "better in the first halves", starting against Roy Hodgson's men, who have lost their last three league matches.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on October 28, 2018, with the headline 'No place for sulkers, warns Guardiola ahead of Spurs game'. Print Edition | Subscribe