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Guardiola glad to see Fernando stand tall

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola praised Fernando after the midfielder tackled the unfamiliar role of right-back in Saturday’s 4-0 win over West Brom.

With City’s senior men in the position, Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna out due to respective foot and hamstring injuries, Guardiola turned to Fernando and he contributed to only a second domestic clean sheet this season for the Premier League leaders.

Teenager Pablo Maffeo impressed in the role during Wednesday’s 1-0 EFL Cup loss to Manchester United but Guardiola felt he needed the 29-year-old’s added physicality to combat Tony Pulis’s side.

“We had two full-backs out. I thought to play with Pablo Maffeo but considering I think this team [West Brom] is a little bit tall, tall guys… we had a guy with a good mentality like Fernando,” Guardiola explained at a post-match news conference.

“He is good with the ball, he is strong in the air. We spoke yesterday in training about his position and he did really, really good.”

City came under pressure during the second half after Sergio Aguero’s double put them in the ascendancy at halfway, with a late double from Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan required to settle nerves and seal the points after six games without a win in all competitions.

“In the second half [West Brom] showed me again how tough the Premier League is,” Guardiola said.

“For me, it is hard to understand why in the first half we had control and then in the second half immediately with the same players – they changed their tactics – the game was on.

“If they scored in the 60th minute or 65th minute everything can happen. The moment when Gundogan scored the goal the game was over.”

Gundogan’s goals were his second and third in City colours after crowning a win by the same scoreline at home to Bournemouth last month.

The former Borussia Dortmund man told his club’s official website: “It was very important to win and we played great, especially in the first half. We deserved it very much and we’re very happy that we were able to win again.

“At the moment it’s a nice feeling to be top of the table but the season is very long so that’s not the main thing right now.

“It was important to improve our game again and not to do the mistakes we did in the last few weeks.”

Gundogan added: “I’m very happy to score. In the last few weeks and months I haven’t scored too much so it’s always special for me to score.”

 

Sat 29 Oct, 2016
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