Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United v Manchester City: Guardiola not afraid to call on City's most promising starlets

By Mark Ogden

Pep Guardiola is ready to hand Manchester City's youngsters the chance to deepen Jose Mourinho's misery at Manchester United by resting his senior players in tonight's EFL Cup tie at Old Trafford.

Guardiola goes into the fourth round encounter against United aiming to avoid extending his winless run to six games, which would be the worst sequence of his managerial career.

But despite the prospect of another failure to win, Guardiola is wary of exposing his first-team players to excessive physical demands, with next Tuesday's Champions League clash at home to Barcelona their sixth competitive fixture in 18 days.

City's blossoming youth set-up has seen the club reach the FA Youth Cup Final in each of the last two seasons and Guardiola admits he has no qualms about selecting the likes of Pablo Maffeo, Alexi Garcia and Angelino.

"We are going to rotate," Guardiola said. "Some of them (youngsters and squad members) will play, firstly because they deserve it and secondly because previous games were tough.

"We played for 35 minutes with 10 men against Barcelona and it was a tough game against Southampton. People are tired. I need to see players in training and after I am going to decide.

"They (Maffeo and Garcia) are with us and I am so happy about what they did when they played.

"Even when they went to play in the second team, it is not easy when you train with the first team and play with the second team, they were really good.

"Young players have to be involved in a good environment. To put five young guys in is not good because we have to protect them, but I am sure we have the level to play and be good."

Guardiola's hand has been forced with injuries forcing Kevin de Bruyne and Pablo Zabaleta out of the game, while goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will miss out due to the City manager choosing to hand Willy Caballero 90 minutes ahead of the Barcelona clash - Bravo is ruled out of that fixture due to suspension.

Yaya Toure, meanwhile, continues to miss out. Vincent Kompany, who played 70 minutes against Southampton, is set to keep his place in the team.

Guardiola insists that, despite the fixture demands on his players, any game against United must be taken seriously.

"A derby is a derby, so it is always special," Guardiola said.

"I always expect the best from United. They lost last weekend, but with the quality and experience of Jose, it is Man United - that means a lot. It doesn't matter how you play at Old Trafford, it is always difficult."

But does the EFL Cup really matter to City, with Guardiola hired to deliver Premier League and Champions League titles?

"I think everyone can believe this competition is not the big one," he said. "But I grew up in one way, so I never consider one game more important. The most important game is the next one."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph