Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola continues to show who's boss and even Sergio Aguero is not immune

By Mark Ogden

Sergio Aguero's relegation to the substitutes' bench for Manchester City's Champions League defeat against Barcelona has been viewed as further evidence by senior figures within the dressing-room of Pep Guardiola's determination to impose his authority on the club's long-serving players.

Aguero (28) was named on the bench in the Nou Camp by Guardiola for the second successive game, with the City manager admitting after the 4-0 Group C defeat that it was a tactical decision based on a desire to pack his midfield against the Spanish champions.

It has since emerged that Guardiola also omitted club captain Vincent Kompany from the match-day squad, despite the Belgian defender being fully fit following a recent injury lay-off, with midfielder Kevin De Bruyne saying: "That's Pep's choice. He must have had his reasons."

Guardiola delivered an early statement of intent at City by sanctioning the departure of England goalkeeper Joe Hart on a season-long loan to Torino before completing the signing of Chile international Claudio Bravo from Barcelona as his replacement.

Samir Nasri, a key figure in the club's two Premier League title successes under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini, has also been loaned out to Sevilla by Guardiola.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach also surprised some within the team by leaving Ivory Coast midfielder Yaya Toure out of City's Champions League squad, having warned the player he would not play again for the first-team until he received an apology for comments made by his agent, Dmitri Seluk.

Aguero's absence from the starting XI in Barcelona has been perhaps the most startling move by Guardiola, however, considering the Argentine's prolific strike-rate both domestically and in the Champions League, where he has become City's all-time leading goalscorer in Europe.

Team-mates have noted tension between the pair, with Guardiola repeatedly insisting publicly that Aguero 'can do better' and that he wants 'more' from the former Atletico Madrid forward.

Aguero, who signed a new contract at City earlier year, has admitted he is 'getting used' to Guardiola's demands.

Then again, he also claimed that 'Pep is very picky about everything' when speaking to the Argentine media during the most recent international break, signs that not all is rosy at the Etihad.

Belfast Telegraph


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