Pep Guardiola is more than happy for Sergio Aguero to take Manchester City’s next penalty – as long as the Argentinian retains faith in his own ability.
Aguero saw a weak spot-kick saved by Hugo Lloris during City’s Champions League quarter-final, first leg at Tottenham on Tuesday, a game Spurs went on to win 1-0 thanks to Son Heung-min’s late strike.
City head to Crystal Palace on Sunday, a couple of hours before Premier League leaders Liverpool face Chelsea at Anfield, and Guardiola warned now is not the time for his players to be struck down by a fear of failure.
Asked if he would be content to see Aguero step up, Guardiola told a news conference: “If he believes he’s going to score, yeah.
He added, pointing to his head: “Penalties is here.
“I’m not going to call him by telephone from the bench. They have to know it. I admire the guys who take the responsibility. I don’t like it when players don’t want to play. I don’t like that.
“When I see a player who can receive the ball and doesn’t move to receive the ball, I don’t like that because I cannot help them. We can help them with many things and make a lot of mistakes but if a player doesn’t want to play there is nothing to do.
“That’s why I admire the guys who take the responsibility of penalties and I know they suffer when they cannot score to help the team. In those situations, I will always be close to them and nothing changes.”
3 – Hugo Lloris has saved all three of the penalties that he has faced with Spurs in all competitions in 2019, stopping efforts against Leicester City, Arsenal and Manchester City tonight. Imposing. #TOTMCI pic.twitter.com/Z15lJ1miq5
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 9, 2019
Leroy Sane has been reduced to a more peripheral role in recent weeks, but Guardiola insists the winger remains a pivotal part of the squad and that his infrequent starts have nothing to do with stalled contract talks regarding an extension beyond 2021.
“I have said many times how important Leroy has been for us in good or bad moments. He knows the reason why he hasn’t played lately,” Guardiola said.
“We spoke often with him on and off the pitch and we want the best. Of course there is competition from the other ones, and in some specific games we need it, and in some specific games I prefer a type of player to have more control but my admiration and trust with him is intact. It’s there but I always want more.
“[Ilkay] Gundogan would not play if that [no new deal] was a reason why. Gundogan has one year left and doesn’t want to extend so he would not play and he plays – ahead of Kevin De Bruyne. I take the decisions on the pitch, what I believe in that moment, what I feel.”
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