Belfast Telegraph

No cheers for Bravo but Chilean is still my number one, says Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola

By Ian Herbert

An unrepentant Pep Guardiola insisted he would keep faith with Claudio Bravo, despite admitting that the Manchester City goalkeeper was at fault for the red card which saw him dismissed during the 4-0 Champions League humbling against Barcelona.

Bravo, signed from Barcelona to replace England number one Joe Hart in August, has endured a shaky start to his City career and looked uneasy with the demands placed on him in the Premier League.

The Chilean's propensity for mistakes was exposed again in the Nou Camp with the keeper being sent off for hand-ball seconds after he lost possession to Luis Suarez 15 yards outside the City penalty area.

But Guardiola insisted that Bravo retains his confidence and that he will not abandon his belief in ball-playing goalkeepers.

"I spoke with Bravo, he was disappointed but it's part of the game," Guardiola said.

"But no change, (my confidence in him) stays the same.

"Football is a game of mistakes, he knows what he did, but he has a lot of experience, he's one of best goalkeepers in last 10 years. I don't have doubts about him.

"He's disappointed but he will learn from that."

Guardiola conceded, however, that it was an unnecessary risk by Bravo to attempt to play the ball so far out of his own penalty area.

"Yes," Guardiola said. "Against Everton we played four or five times long balls.

"But I'm sorry - until the last day of my career as a coach I will try to play from our goalkeeper.

"There are moments you have to kick the ball out, but he tried to play it and sometimes it happens."

Bravo's dismissal was the fourth time in five encounters with Barcelona that City have been forced to play with 10 men.

And Guardiola claimed that the 53rd minute incident was the crucial moment in the game.

"At that level it is hard, but until 10 against 11 it was open and we were competing against a team with a big personality," he said. "But after the card it was over.

"We were there, we were in the game. We were pressing, we had the possession and we made the chances. We did it but we didn't take the chances and you have to do that to win the game

"Every game since Celtic has been the same. Against Everton it was the same with an own goal and two missed penalties. We need to change the atmosphere.

"We knew from the beginning it would be a tough group."

Guardiola, who insisted this defeat was not the worst of his career - the City manager cited Bayern Munich's 4-0 Champions League semi-final defeat against Real Madrid as his managerial low-point - started the game with leading scorer Sergio Aguero on the bench.

The Spaniard - whose side host Southampton on Sunday - insisted the decision was tactical, with a need for more midfielders.

"I wanted one more midfield player in that position and that was the reason why," Guardiola said. "I spoke with him and he was good."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph