Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insists Sergio Aguero does not owe him an apology after a midweek night out in Amsterdam left his top scorer with a broken rib from a car accident.
Premier League leaders City travel to Chelsea on Saturday, sitting three points above Antonio Conte’s reigning champions at the summit.
But their preparations were dealt a big blow when a taxi carrying Aguero as a passenger drove into a lamp post on Amsterdam’s De Boelelaan at around 11pm on Thursday night.
The 29-year-old was initially treated at the VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam before travelling back to Manchester on Friday to be assessed by City’s medical staff.
Guardiola will now be forced to make do without Aguero, who is one goal away from equalling City’s all-time scoring record, but he refused to condemn the Argentina star for travelling abroad on a day off to attend a concert by Colombian pop star Maluma, 48 hours before a pivotal match.
“Why should he apologise to me?” Guardiola said.
I’m home in Manchester after an exam by club Drs. It’s a broken rib. Hurts, but I’m fine, fully focused on recovery. Thank you all! pic.twitter.com/uamK7xwo99
— Sergio Kun Aguero (@aguerosergiokun) September 29, 2017
“No [he does not need to]. And Mendy too?” he added in reference to left-back Benjamin Mendy, who he confirmed will be out until April next year with a ruptured anterior cruciate knee ligament sustained during last weekend’s 5-0 win over Crystal Palace.
The media’s focus was trained upon Aguero who, even though he has not always been an automatic first choice during Guardiola’s tenure, found a staunch ally in his manager on this occasion.
“I don’t want to know what my players do,” he said. “They are fathers, they have a full responsibility on their shoulders – on and off the pitch.
“I have a private life, my family. I am concerned with what they have to do on the pitch. That’s all.
“I don’t know what the supporters think. Some of them can be upset, some not. At the end it’s fortunate the injury is not bad. He is healthy. Accidents happen, he’s alive.
“Sergio is mature enough to know exactly what he has to do.”
Similarly, Guardiola refuted the suggestion that a late night so close to a key game would have hindered Aguero, irrespective of his unfortunate choice of taxi driver.
“Our players’ physical condition is top. They work amazingly,” he said. “Our athletic preparation is perfect.
“We trained 11am not 8am, so he had enough time to rest.”
— Benjamin Mendy (@benmendy23) September 29, 2017
Chelsea beat City at home and away in the league last season – Conte becoming the first man to inflict such a punishment upon Guardiola during his esteemed coaching career.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is keen to see how his revamped squad respond and will not allow Aguero’s absence to serve as an excuse.
“We want to become a big club, I’ve been at two amazing clubs in my life – you have to overcome this situation,” he said.
“If we start to complain we’ll never reach the step we want to get to. I prefer to play with men who are strong.
“I would like to play with Sergio because we are strong with him, but he’s not there. No complaints. The big clubs do it – they overcome the difficult situations.
“If people are saying we can’t do it now, forget about it. We’ll never reach what we want as a club in the next five or six years.”
While Guardiola has an array of attacking talent to step into his forward line as Aguero recuperates, being without Mendy’s buccaneering displays from left-back could prove to be the more punishing loss.
“We can’t replace him,” his manager conceded. “In the way he plays, the way he goes up and down the sides you can’t replace him.
“We have to do it in a different way. There is no replacement here but also all around the world.
“Nobody has the energy Benjamin has. His mood on the pitch and in the locker room.
“But we have other qualities in other players and have to find a balance with them.”
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