Pep Guardiola believes Claudio Bravo must accept criticism over his form and does not feel the Chile goalkeeper is the main reason for Manchester City’s faltering title challenge.
Bravo’s performances have come under scrutiny in the aftermath of last weekend’s 4-0 defeat at Everton, where the hosts scored with each of their shots on target over the 90 minutes.
The former Real Sociedad and Barcelona keeper’s standing with the City faithful is further complicated by the fact Guardiola jettisoned fan favourite and England number one Joe Hart in favour of him.
The glare of the spotlight is only likely to grow in ferocity when City host in-form Tottenham at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, aiming to make up a three-point deficit to the Premier League’s second-place side.
“I accept it,” Guardiola told a pre-match news conference, when asked about Bravo’s plummeting stock. “It’s part of our job. The manager’s job, the players’ job, so accept it.
“We have to do well in both boxes and be a little bit stronger than we have been this season. When we are strong at the back, we will be stronger in front.”
Asked whether he expected better from Bravo, Guardiola replied: “From myself too.
“The position [in the table] is not about the goalkeeper. It would be easy for me if it were about that.
“It is the chances we have had – play better and score the chances we had and concede fewer when the opponents arrive.”
Brazil striker Gabriel Jesus could add a more clinical edge to the City forward line against Spurs, having belatedly received clearance on his switch from Palmeiras to be in line for an eagerly awaited debut.
“He is fit, he is ready to be involved in the squad and the team,” Guardiola said. “He is a young player, 19 years old.
“We cannot think he is going to solve our problems. He is going to help us in the Premier League.
“He will have all the time to get involved. It would be easy if he could have arrived at the beginning of the season.
“Now it is the middle of the season with not too many training sessions but he is smart, has quality and is going to help us.
“He is young, has passion, wants to create his career here and we are going to help him.”
Jesus’ arrival has added a smattering of question marks to the future of Sergio Aguero – City’s leading marksman who has experienced patchy form of late and previously unforeseen disciplinary problems under Guardiola.
The Argentina star has also failed to make an impression against the main title contenders this term as his team-mates languish 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.
Guardiola dined with Aguero and his agent Hernan Reguera in a Manchester city centre restaurant on Thursday night, but the City boss insisted there was nothing too taxing on the agenda.
“We didn’t speak about the contract. He is already on a long contract,” he added.
“He has a lot of money – he wanted to invite his agent to have dinner. That is what it is.”
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