Belfast Telegraph

Pep Guardiola defends Man City changes and hits out over 'disrespect'

Huddersfield Town 0 Manchester City 0

By Steve Madeley

Pep Guardiola has hit out at pundits who he claims 'disrespect' Premier League managers and launched a passionate defence of Arsene Wenger.

The Manchester City manager defended his eight team changes for Saturday's goalless FA Cup draw at Huddersfield Town.

And he claims he is a victim of the same wise-after-the-event criticism that has been levelled at Wenger since his side's 5-1 Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich.

Guardiola made eight changes at the John Smith's Stadium but his second-string side could not find a way to beat the Championship side.

"My friend, I take my decisions and you analyse them after," he told a reporter.

"I have to take the decision before. The best solution was what I'd done.

"What I've heard in the last 10 days about how the people - former players and journalists - treated for example Arsene Wenger is unacceptable.

"For me our job at the moment we don't have any respect for any position.

"What happened was unrespectful. We take decisions and you can say whatever you want."

City now face an unwanted replay next Tuesday - a fixture that they must fit in alongside their Premier League and European commitments.

They face Monaco tomorrow in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Midfielder Fernando insists City's failure to get past Huddersfield had nothing to do with the changes made to the side.

"I don't think that influenced us," said the Brazilian. "We train every day and we listen to what our manager says, it didn't affect us.

"Maybe some players didn't get into the rhythm but we played well. Unfortunately we didn't score.

"We had chances and, of course, we wanted to score and win but they played well and the result was difficult for us."

City's changes included a start for top scorer Sergio Aguero after three games as a substitute but the prolific Argentinian was out of luck in front of goal, being denied by Joel Coleman.

Another returning player, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, did make a key contribution with two good saves from Rajiv van La Parra and another from a Jack Payne free-kick. Philip Billing also had a goal disallowed for offside.

The sides will now meet again at the Etihad Stadium next Tuesday.

Fernando said: "We must now focus on the replay of this game. Our target is to win as many trophies as possible and we are still alive in three competitions."

Huddersfield acquitted themselves well, taking the game to their opponents, despite their seven changes also making clear their priorities lie elsewhere.

David Wagner's men are third in the Sky Bet Championship and host fourth-placed Reading in a crucial match on Tuesday.

Wagner said before the game Huddersfield were one of the smallest clubs in the Championship in terms of budget, but with big potential. That was underlined by a stadium record crowd - for a football match -of 24,129.

Wagner said: "I know we are competitive with our weapons, and we have different weapons - enthusiasm, energy, euphoria, fitness - but maybe not the biggest budget. This was why I said we are the smallest club.

"But, for sure, we are a club who improves, who is hungry, who give ourselves no limits.

"With this support and this atmosphere we have taken another step in the right direction to improving as a football club."

For Wagner, maintaining these standards are more important than the result of the replay.

He said: "Before every match I have no idea if we will win it, but I believe we can show a good performance and our identity in Manchester."


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