Pep Guardiola

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The Mendy Effect: Pep praises injured back

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Full back Benjamin Mendy cost Pep Guardiola and Manchester City $68 million, but perhaps he’ll be just as valuable as a very expensive sports psychologist.

The “Shark Team” member was amusing on social media even before his ACL injury sent him to the sidelines until at least April, but he’s become a must-follow Twitter fixture with his in-game messages (See some of his work below).

[ MORE: MLS Decision Day preview ]

City faces Burnley at 10 a.m. ET Saturday (Watch live on CNBC and online via NBCSports.com).

It’s fairly clear his act has translated in private, too, as apparently Mendy is just as good in group messages (Let us in, Pep. We won’t tell anyone). From ManCity.com:

“Usually, players who are out for a long time with injury are sad. They sometimes train apart and feel isolated.

“Mendy decided to be present. He is communicating on social media, WhatsApp and he calls his teammates and messages me. He is going to be so important outside the pitch because people like him make the atmosphere much better.”

It’s not surprising for anyone who’s been following the former Le Havre, Marseille and Monaco man.

Keep in mind, these Tweets below are from the last few days alone!

Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliance lauded as Man City run riot

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Premier League leaders Manchester City are in otherworldly form in attack after seven wins from their opening eight games of the season.

Kevin De Bruyne is leading their charge.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

After their 7-2 win against Stoke City on Saturday, Pep Guardiola‘s men have now scored 24 goals in their last five Premier League games. They have scored 29 goals in their opening eight Premier League games of the season overall.

In top-flight history only the Everton side of the 1894-95 season have scored more in their opening eight eight games of a season.

City had six different goalscorers on Saturday and Sergio Aguero was an unused sub. Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Yaya Toure were brought off the bench to showcase City’s incredible strength in depth.

And Guardiola, who said it was City’s “best performance” since he took charge last summer, is simply running out of superlatives for de Bruyne.

The Belgian set up two goals and dominated proceedings on his 100th appearance for Man City, as the wizard has taken his game to another level this season.

His second assist for Leroy Sane (see the video above) was simply majestic and since he arrived at City in September 2015 no other player in the Premier League has grabbed more than his 32 assists.

“He is a guy that is so dynamic and can control the game. He is a big talent and made a good performance today,” Guardiola said. “Hopefully he can keep it up. We need him. When he has the ball, our wingers know he can deliver assists with one action.”

Gabriel Jesus, who scored twice against Stoke to take his tally to seven goals for the season in all competitions, also lauded KDB’s brilliance.

“I’m really happy and pleased to be playing with high-level players like him. We all feel lucky to have him in our team,” Jesus said. “We have been working hard and face every game to win and score lots of goals. We’re really happy with how we are playing.”

Even Stoke City’s official Twitter page had to hold their hands up and acknowledge de Bruyne’s brilliance and the way Man City were playing.

Yes, Man City’s form is sensational and in their last five Premier League games they’ve racked up 5-0 wins against Liverpool and Crystal Palace, a 6-0 win at Watford and a 1-0 win at Chelsea, but we’ve seen this dazzling attacking action from them before without winning trophies.

Guardiola knows his team has a duty to entertain with the way he has them set up and his philosophy but he wants to do one thing over anything else: win.

“I am here to win, I am not here to entertain,” Guardiola said. “This is the way we want to play, our confidence is high. Everybody believes we are going to win. We create many chances.”

De Bruyne is the man creating most of them.

Pochettino furious over Guardiola’s “disrespectful” Kane comments

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Could there be a budding rivalry between Premier League managers?

It may not be at that point yet, but Mauricio Pochettino certainly didn’t take too kindly to recent comments made by his managerial counterpart at Manchester City.

[ MORE: Mourinho speaks ahead of big Man United-Liverpool clash ]

Man City boss Pep Guardiola referred to Tottenham as the “Harry Kane team” prior to the international break, which Pochettino saw as “disrespectful,” despite the former considering Spurs legitimate title contenders alongside the Cityzens, Chelsea and Manchester United.

Pochettino didn’t hesitate to make his unhappiness known ahead of this weekend’s clash against Bournemouth.

“It was funny when I heard him the other day because I know Pep very well. When it’s exciting after an amazing victory against Chelsea, sometimes [he] can struggle to keep his position and be a gentleman,” Pochettino said.

“That didn’t affect me but the reality is it was very disrespectful for many people and it’s difficult to understand because he was part of the big success at Barcelona with Messi at his best, and I never said it was ‘the Messi team.’ I always said it was Barcelona or Pep Guardiola.”

The Spurs manager quickly turned his attention to the rest of his squad, which he feels has done a fantastic job thus far in the early going of the 2017/18 Premier League season.

Tottenham currently sits third in England’s top flight on 14 points in seven matches, trailing leaders Man City and Man United by five points.

“I think everyone deserves to be recognised as part of the success of the team. But I think many people took those words as very disrespectful for the club, and for many players here I think it’s a strange situation. Personally I didn’t take it in a bad way. It wasn’t disrespectful for myself. Only I express my feeling that, for a lot of people, it wasn’t necessary to say that.

“But I think we need to move on. For me, Harry Kane is one of the best strikers — it doesn’t change anything. And it’s important that our position is clear, to be calm and not be aggressive with our opponents. Our responsibility is massive. But I think it’s important to respect every single opinion and I respect his opinion.

“I think everyone knows how Tottenham is, how Manchester City, how was Barcelona, how Argentina is. It’s a collective sport. Everyone needs to do his job. Of course sometimes it’s difficult, because in the media the temptation is to be focused on some players.

The 2 Robbies: Guardiola’s tactics outdo Conte, Chelsea

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Robbie Mustoe & Robbie Earle dispute whether Harry Kane is world-class (00:25), Manchester United’s gentle start to the season (10:15), the biggest match of the season so far with Chelsea vs. Manchester City (18:50), and Slaven Bilic saved by a late winner (28:20).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

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Guardiola praises Man City’s possession, KDB in win over Chelsea

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When Pep Guardiola was announced as the incoming manager of Manchester City, pie-in-the-sky expectations were immediately thrust upon the Spaniard, as if he were some kind of miracle worker.

Season no. 1 in the Premier League didn’t go quite as many had hoped, but Guardiola was prepared for some early struggles — perhaps even expecting them. Season no. 2 has started at breakneck speed.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Man City win at Chelsea; Kane gets 2 more ]

There’s no two ways about it: the 2017-18 edition of Man City is already quite special, still with plenty of room to grow, and this season’s title race should be equally special, assuming Manchester United and/or Chelsea and/or Tottenham Hotspur can keep pace with Guardiola’s men.

Speaking in his post-game television interviews following City’s 1-0 win away to Chelsea which puts them back atop the league table, Guardiola held back very little in praising the performance of his entire team, while singling out one very special Belgian playmaker in particular — quotes from the BBC:

“It is important to win and especially with the way we played. In the first half we didn’t find the right position but in the second we were better. A big congratulations for the victory.

“Chelsea want to play and they are so so dangerous in attack but we kept the ball and when they had it we pressed as high as possible.

“We had control and the second half we adjusted our possession and the way we attacked. They could not play and had to do long balls.

Kevin De Bruyne was outstanding, he makes absolutely everything. He is good in small spaces, he is humble and clever. He has speed and fight and can attack through the channel. He can play in four of five positions so we are lucky.”

[ MORE: Conte updates Morata’s injury, bemoans lack of luck ]

As for De Bruyne, he says the entire team is already reaping the rewards of a refocused mentality, courtesy of the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager — quotes from the BBC:

“I feel very happy. We produced a good performance. We knew it would be tactically very difficult. They are one of the best teams on the counter attack. The way we played was very positive.

“We had a little bit of a plan not to get caught by Eden and Willian because they are dangerous, that’s why we played like a 3-4-3 and we managed to do it very well.

“The spirit is very good. I think it was after a game in pre-season that Pep said we need to get the mentality to hate to lose. This year we try to do that and win the points in the big games. It can change very quickly but we ha a good spell in September and try to do the same when we come back after the international break.”