Football

Pep explains Hart snub

MAN CITY 2

(Sergio Aguero 4-pen, Paddy McNair 87-og)

SUNDERLAND 1

(Jermain Defoe 71)

Pep Guardiola claims his decision to leave out Joe Hart could prove a one-off.

The new Manchester City boss sprang a surprise in his first match in charge against Sunderland yesterday morning (Singapore time) by dropping the England goalkeeper in favour of Willy Caballero.

The decision is certain to fuel speculation over the 29-year-old's future but Guardiola says his thinking could change for Wednesday morning's Champions League qualifier at Steaua Bucharest.

The Spaniard, who saw his side beat Sunderland 2-1 in their Premier League opener, said: "Of course, he can play. All the players in the squad can play.

"I have a lot of respect for Joe, a lot of respect for his career. I know how good a goalkeeper he is, but today I decided for Willy. That is all.

"I think Willy make a good pre-season - really, really good. He gave me today a lot of confidence for his build-up play, for his personality and that's why I choose him.

"In the end, I have a squad and I decide what I see. I have to create a team spirit. It's not about tactics, it's not about anything, and I decided today for this line-up.

"That does not mean in the future they are not going to play or they are going to play."

Some reports have claimed Guardiola would like more of a ball-playing goalkeeper in the mould of his former Bayern Munich No. 1 Manuel Neuer.

But, while Guardiola has not denied this is how he would like a goalkeeper to play, he insists Hart - who joined up for pre-season training later than others after international duty - could still be his choice.

"Willy trained in more training sessions than Joe. We spent a lot of time working two on one, three on two, four on three, using the goalkeeper in training more. That doesn't mean Joe can't do that," said Guardiola, who also dropped Yaya Toure.

City dominated possession but were short on the incisive attacking play that was a hallmark of Guardiola's Barcelona and Bayern Munich teams.

"Sometimes you are a little lucky," said Guardiola.

"We should have been a bit more aggressive but these kind of things have to happen to know how to get better in the next game."

- PA Sport.

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