Fernandinho has been pivotal to Manchester City’s unblemished start to the Premier League season according to Pep Guardiola, who would like more players like the Brazilian in his side.
City put their 100 per cent domestic record on the line against second-place Tottenham at White Hart Lane on Sunday, having failed to win for the first time this season in a pulsating 3-3 Champions League draw at Celtic in midweek.
Fernandinho scored the first of three equalisers for Guardiola’s men in Glasgow – his second goal of the season – and the 31-year-old has been a relentless influence on the side from a nominally defensive position at the base of City’s central midfield three.
“That is because Fernandinho can do everything,” Guardiola told reporters.
“What we have achieved so far would have been impossible without him. He is fast, he is intelligent, strong in the air and he can play in several positions.
“No sooner does he see a space than he runs there immediately. If you need someone to make a correction or a challenge, he sees it too.
“If a team had three Fernandinhos, they would be champions. We only have one and he is very important to us.”
Raheem Sterling joined Fernandinho by scoring at Celtic Park and has been one of the overwhelming success stories under Guardiola so far.
On the back of a sapping Euro 2016 experience with England, Sterling has been revitalised and credits his manager for removing some of the shackles imposed during Manuel Pellegrini’s time in charge at the Etihad Stadium.
“It was really difficult because I didn’t feel I could play my natural game,” he said of his time under the Chilean in an interview with the Daily Mail.
“Everyone was two-touch kings. The whole training session was based on two touches. I wasn’t able to dribble. I like to dribble and I like to have fun and take players on.
“But you can’t do that with two touches. Sometimes, the way it works is that what you do in training sessions is what you do in the game. You get in a habit.
“Coming in this year, it’s been different. I had five minutes with Pep and he showed me on the board where he wants me to be and what he wants me to do and he said the rest was down to me.
“He said with my ability I needed to get at my defenders, try to make crosses and score and as soon as I lose the ball, get back into position.
“Against West Ham, I scored a goal and he wasn’t happy because I didn’t go at my full-back as much as he wanted and I had lots of opportunities. It’s a great challenge because he wants me to be more direct with my running and get at players because he wants me to create as many chances as he can and score goals.
“I feel I have more freedom to express myself now. I’m not going to lie about that – I feel much more free. When I get the ball, I have the authority to be myself and try to create chances and be free.”
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