Belfast Telegraph

Players will heed criticism more when they have won: Guardiola

Manchester City 3 Aston Villa 0

By Andy Hampson

Pep Guardiola took the opportunity to criticise his Manchester City side after their clash with Aston Villa - because they won.

The City boss felt the champions underperformed in the first half of Saturday's 3-0 win at the Etihad Stadium.

"If we play like we did in the first-half, we will be relegated or in the relegation positions," he said after second-half goals from Raheem Sterling, David Silva and Ilkay Gundogan secured victory.

Had they not won, Guardiola suggested he may not have been as forthright in his criticism.

The Spaniard said: "One word I hate is the word 'complain', so normally when I say something not nice it's after a victory. I would never say it after a defeat.

"We were punished in some defeats and I shut my mouth, I didn't say anything, so it is what it is."

Guardiola also does not want to complain about the problems that have forced him to play players out of their natural positions in recent weeks.

This has most notably occurred in defence, where Fernandinho and Rodri have had to cover for injuries. John Stones and Nicolas Otamendi are now fit again, but Rodri has since picked up an injury and Fernandinho will be suspended for the Carabao Cup clash with Southampton tomorrow.

Guardiola said: "For the short term, we can handle it. For a long time, I don't know."

Villa goalkeeper Tom Heaton felt City's second goal, which was initially awarded to Kevin De Bruyne and subsequently credited to Silva, should have been disallowed.

Had the VAR, which looked at several replays at the time, ruled that Silva got a touch to De Bruyne's cross, then it could have been disallowed for offside against Sterling.

Heaton said: "De Bruyne has played the ball in and Raheem's come across my eyeline.

"I'm not even totally convinced it didn't graze Raheem's shorts to be honest. It was offside for me."

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