Football

Pep Guardiola facing biggest challenge of his career: Gary Neville

Former Manchester United stalwart Gary Neville warned Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola that he is facing the biggest challenge of his managerial career, after his side lost 5-2 at home to Leicester City yesterday morning (Singapore time).

City dominated after ex-Leicester star Riyad Mahrez gave them an early lead, but their game plan crumbled like a house of cards after Jamie Vardy netted a 37th-minute penalty.

Vardy finished the match with a hat-trick, as James Maddison and Youri Tielemans also found the net for the Foxes in a game which saw them awarded three penalties. Nathan Ake scored a consolation for City.

"They didn't want to play, they defended so deep and just wanted to counter-attack," Guardiola told the BBC after seeing a side he managed concede five goals for the first time.

City midfielder Rodri added: "They were lucky. Football has not been fair to us.

"We did a lot of good things to win the game. A team like Leicester comes here and plays with 11 guys behind the ball."

However, Neville warned that the result was not a fluke.

He told Sky Sports: "(City) were so good in the opening 25 minutes but, as soon as Leicester broke on them a couple of times, you felt that, psychologically, it just damaged them.

"Some of the wounds from last season are reappearing. The bugs that cost them the title. Certainly, you can get at this Manchester City back four a lot quicker that you could previously. They don't seem to react in transition higher up as they did...

"(Pep) has set the standard. Is it fair to say that as he stands on the touchline here today with no title last season, he has got the biggest job that he has probably ever had in football at this moment in time - to win the title again... They do look well behind Liverpool ."

Former Liverpool captain and manager Graeme Souness agreed, saying on Sky Sports: "I look at City now, whether Ruben Dias comes in, it'll have to be more than Dias to take City from 18 points behind Liverpool to getting in front of them.

"Liverpool are stronger today than they were 12 months ago."

Benfica yesterday announced that they have have agreed a deal to sell centre back Dias to City for 68 million euros (S$108.9m) pending a medical, with Nicolas Otamendi moving in the opposite direction for 15m euros.

Football