Pep Guardiola praised Jack Grealish for an “incredible debut” but the Manchester City boss admitted his side lacked a clinical edge in the 1-0 loss away to Tottenham.
Son Heung-min scored the only goal of the game in the second half as Spurs, minus star striker Harry Kane, defeated the reigning Premier League champions.
Grealish played the entire game for City, the £100million signing completing 89.6 per cent of his passes and creating two chances. He also had three shots in total, with one of those ending up on target.
Guardiola was pleased with what he saw from the new recruit who was fouled five times – the most for a City player in a league game since Raheem Sterling in September 2018.
“He is so dangerous close to the box, when we have the ball, he always has an extra pass,” Guardiola told a post-match news conference when asked about Grealish’s display.
“He had an incredible debut and will be so important for us. I congratulate him for having the personality to try and try until the end.”
City had 18 attempts but were unable to find a way through, their lack of goals likely to heighten talk around a renewed push to sign Kane from their opponents before the transfer deadline.
Guardiola was pleased with the majority of what he saw, particularly as some of his players had only just resumed training with the rest of the squad following international commitments.
“We started really well, the only problem is we concede some transitions – we are not good in these, we are not good enough – we conceded a few loose, simple, simple balls, that’s why it was more difficult,” he told Sky Sports.
“In general, you see the stats, the intention to create chances. Unfortunately, we were not clinical enough up front and we lost the game.”
Guardiola has now lost more away games against Spurs in all competitions than against any other opponent on the road. This was also his first defeat in an opening game to a new league campaign since arriving in England, albeit he was not overly concerned at the early setback.
The former Barcelona boss added: “I’m not complaining. We arrived here and made a good, good game. The stats are exceptional, they always are.
“In previous years, except the first season when I arrived here and we lost deservedly at White Hart Lane, I have had the feeling we’ve been good, just not able to get results.
“We create far more, but we’re in that period of the season where, two days ago, it was our first day together. The players need time to come back, and mentally we know here is always a tough game.
“At the same time, our intentions and approach was really good for all the game.
“It’s still the beginning of the season, it’s tough to win games.”
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