Saturday 16 December 2017

Pep determined to get stuttering City winning again after Saints stalemate

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola watches his side’s draw with Southampton Picture: PA
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola watches his side’s draw with Southampton Picture: PA

Pep Guardiola is determined to get Manchester City back to winning ways at the expense of Southampton.

City's midweek humbling by Barcelona in the Champions League extended their winless run to four games.

It is an unfamiliar scenario for manager Guardiola and another disappointing result as Southampton visit in the Premier League on Sunday would equal the worst run of his career.

Only once has former Barca and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola gone five games without a win, at the Nou Camp more than seven years ago.

Guardiola said: "Managers in other parts of the club have to think short and long term but the (team) managers day by day. We are judged on what happens today, so I'm thinking about Southampton.

"Of course we have to win because it is four times without a win and we need that. But, at the same time, we were able to win 10 times in a row, so we are now able win four, five or six times."

Southampton were also involved in European action in the week, losing 1-0 to Inter Milan at San Siro. Until then Saints had been enjoying a good run, going seven games unbeaten, and Guardiola has been impressed by what he has seen of them.

He said: "I saw the game against Inter Milan. Football is unbelievable because they played amazingly, much better than Inter, and Inter won. Inter just shot once and won.

"Southampton created six, seven clear chances and didn't win. They lost but I was really impressed.

"People talk about what a good team they are. I saw in this game and a little bit of another game how good they are. It will be tough."

The 4-0 loss in Barcelona has seen some of Guardiola's methods questioned. Notably, their determination to play out from the back came unstuck when goalkeeper Claudio Bravo blundered after coming out of his area and got himself sent off.

But Guardiola has defended his approach and his players also seem unwavering in their belief.

Midfielder Fernandinho said: "We know exactly what we are doing, the style of game. We are playing good, everyone is confident.

"The last four games we didn't win but these things can happen in football. If you see the last game at home against Everton, they shot twice and scored a goal. Sometimes you cannot explain football."

Guardiola also suffered a blow with Kevin De Bruyne picking up a knock in the first half that meant he had to be substituted.

Southampton were under an immense amount of pressure at the end, but stood firm to hold on to a valuable point and leave manager Claude Puel satisfied after that frustrating loss to Inter in midweek.

He said: "I'm happy of course for the point and also with the spirit. It was a significant game against a good team. I think it is difficult with this team because they are good at pressing and it was difficult to play our game today. The second half we kept a good defensive organisation to keep this result.

"They finished the last game against Inter Milan with a big disappointment. It was important to preserve (the result) today."

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