City players must vie for places

Pep Guardiola is offering no guarantees of a place to any of his expensively-assembled Manchester City squad.

City spent €219m in strengthening their squad over the summer in a bid to regain the Premier League title.

Guardiola has more options, in terms of personnel and systems, and two of last season’s stars, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling, did not start in last week’s season opener at Brighton.

Guardiola has warned that players will have to compete for places.

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss said: “Hopefully, they will understand that, at the big clubs, you cannot have eleven players, so they have to compete with each other.

“For example, the last game, in Brighton, Leroy didn’t play from the beginning. It was a key point and I changed our dynamic a little bit in front. Raz (Sterling), when he played minutes, he played good.

“In that kind of level in the Premier League, the people who are 12, 13, 14 and play in the game, they are so, so important.

“When the game is in the last 15 or 20 minutes, the opponent is tired and we’ve moved them during the game, we can put into the game dynamic players, like Bernardo Silva, Raz (Sterling), or Sane. In another game, maybe it’s Sergio (Aguero) or Gabriel (Jesus). So it’s a point where we can win games in the last minutes.”

City are still looking to add to their squad and had an offer for West Brom’s former Manchester United centre-back, Jonny Evans, rejected last week.

It remains to be seen whether they will bid again, look elsewhere, or proceed with the options they have in that position, which could include restoring Eliaquim Mangala to full first-team duties, after his season at Valencia.

Guardiola denies this is a snub to Academy graduate, Tosin Adarabioyo, and insists the highly-rated 19-year-old, who signed a new contract over the summer, will have to earn his chance.

Everton manager, Ronald Koeman, rates City as better than they were last season, but still believes they have a weakness that Everton can exploit. One of Everton’s most notable results of last term was when they defeated City 4-0 at Goodison Park, having held Guardiola’s side to a 1-1 draw at the Etihad Stadium, earlier in the campaign.

Koeman and Guardiola know each other well, from their Barcelona days, and the Dutchman is a big fan of his friend’s style of play. But he also feels it gives hope to Premier League opponents, saying: “The way he likes to play is the most difficult way. It’s really a pleasure to see his teams playing football.

“They play with a lot of offensive players in the teams. The Premier League is strong, physically, on set-plays, and they try to play with a high defence. There is always space behind, we know that, we remember that. When we played City at home, we punished them for that, but I still think the business they did in the summer, they are stronger than last year.”


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