Following Man City’s surprise 1:1 draw against Burnley at Turf Moor on Saturday evening, Pep Guardiola received criticism from Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville for selecting only 6 substitutes on the bench, despite him being allowed to have 7 players. “I think it’s a joke, I absolutely think it’s a joke,” stressed the former Man United player, who believes Guardiola should have at least used someone from the youth setup if not from the first team, according to online sportsbook news.
Guardiola couldn’t find one more player, despite having a squad worth £700m
The starting 11 consisted of Ederson, Walker, Otamendi, Kompany, Danilo, Fernandinho, Gundogan, De Bruyne, Silva, Sterling and Aguero. The 6 players – out of possible 7 – that Guardiola chose on the bench were Bravo, Zinchenko, Toure, Diaz, Adarabioyo and new recruit Laporte.
Looking at this issue more objectively, having 7 players on the bench instead of 6 probably wouldn’t have influenced the result of the game, but Neville’s comments about at least having a player from Man City’s academy would have been good for that player to have exposure with the first team.
“If you’re a youth team manager at Manchester City, ring him up and ask which kid deserves that boost,” said Neville, about the Catalan’s strange decision. “Who has been playing well this season and who has worked hard?”
With an academy full of young players, Pep really has no excuse for naming only 6 subs (source: Standard)
According to Transfermarkt, Guardiola has assembled a group of players whose combined value stands at a whopping £713.25m – the most expensive squad in the Premier League – and he’s signed a large number of player just last summer, so it’s surprising he couldn’t find one more player to fill the gap on the bench. The point is that this just looks bad both to the public and the team itself – something that Neville highlighted in his criticism of Guardiola in the post-match analysis.
“I’m not sure why he’s peddling this theme. He’s an absolutely incredible manager and the work he has done with this team is unbelievable and the team performance is absolutely outstanding. Things like that let you down. He doesn’t need to do things like that.”
Man United close the gap, but Man City still remain favourites
Since Man City entered 2018, their results have slightly gone down relative to their performances in the first half of the campaign; over the last 5 games they’ve won on 3 occasions while also losing a match against Liverpool and now succumbing to a surprising draw against Burnley. Their crosstown rivals Man United have now closed the gap a bit, but the Sky Blues still sit 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Online sportsbooks in UK still strongly favour Guardiola’s men to clinch the title despite this small hiccup in round 26. The Catalan manager recently commented the league has not yet been decided as there are plenty more games to be played, while his counterpart Jose Mourinho argued the opposite believing the battles will be contested for the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th positions on the table, with the 1st spot virtually already decided.