Football

Guardiola not afraid to make tough choices at Man City

Man City boss says buck stops with him if player selections don't work out

Pep Guardiola has said that he is not afraid to make hard decisions when it comes to player selections, as the Manchester City manager mounts a trophy assault on all fronts.

The latest to feel the brunt of the Spaniard's ruthlessness was star striker Sergio Aguero, who was yanked off the pitch to be replaced by Gabriel Jesus before the hour mark during Man City's 4-1 win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.

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Guardiola has defended his right to chop and change according to the demands of the fixture list, which is about to get pretty packed with the festive season looming.

FOXES' PUEL HAILS CITY

He said: "The players want to play and I can understand that. Aguero is a top player but, at that moment, I needed a little more energy in that position. That is why I decided to bring on Jesus.

"I don't want to hurt the players, believe me. I understand that they want to play, because I was a football player. But I have to take decisions.

"Before the game, I thought the best option was Sergio and I told Gabriel that. If he's upset, I'm sorry but I'm just thinking about the next one.

"When the manager takes a decision and we win, always we are right. When we don't win, we make a mistake. So, it is simple as that."

Guardiola will be expected to make more unpopular changes to his starting line-up when his team visit the King Power Stadium tomorrow morning (Singapore time) in a League Cup quarter-final clash with Leicester City.

The Foxes' manager Claude Puel was quick to play up the superiority of their opponents, hailing them as the best team on the continent during a press conference yesterday.

Man City have won a record 16 English Premier League matches in a row and haven't dropped points in the league since a 1-1 draw with Everton four months ago. They are 11 points clear in the league table.

Reports yesterday said that City's hierarchy is so happy with the progress made under him that they are eager to tie Guardiola, who is half-way through his three-year deal, to a long-term contract.

Said Puel: "They are the top team in Europe. It's difficult to beat them, other teams have tried but without the results.

"With the ball and without the ball, they are the best at the moment. It's difficult to find a solution against them."

Puel added that he will pick his "strongest players of the moment", although he also said that it's a fine line between strongest and best with the hectic festive schedule coming up.

He said: "The priority is always the next game. We know we need to play five games in next two weeks.

"We need to keep in mind all the games coming up. We need some rotation to keep good quality on the pitch." - WIRE SERVICES

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