Pep Guardiola is standing by his man.
On his Premier League and Manchester City debut on Saturday in the 2-1 win at rivals Manchester United in the Manchester derby, new goalkeeper Claudio Bravo didn’t cover himself in glory.
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Just before half time Bravo, 33, flapped at a high ball into the box which fell into Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s path to hand United a way back into the game. The former Barcelona goalkeeper was nearly caught on the ball in the second half as Wayne Rooney fouled him and shortly after he took a heavy touch which resulted in a hefty challenge on Rooney as the Chilean stopper was lucky to get away without a red card and giving away a penalty kick.
All in all, not the best of debuts as most City fans were left scratching their heads as to why club legend Joe Hart, 29, was allowed to leave on loan this summer as the England number one is now with Torino in Serie A. (For what it’s worth, he made a very similar mistake on his Torino debut).
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Speaking to the media on Monday ahead of City’s UEFA Champions League group stage opener against Borussia Monchendgladbach on Tuesday at the Etihad Stadium, Guardiola defended Bravo’s performance when asked about his post-game comments where he called his goalkeepers display “one of the best performances I’v ever seen.”
Are you sure, Pep?
“He is so strong. Yesterday I saw the game we played against United, to realize what kind of things we did good and what kind of things we have to improve,” Guardiola said. “I saw the action, the goal and what happened after three or four actions he received the ball with huge personality in that moment. That is why I tried to say after the game. Yesterday I saw the game and I was convinced before and after seeing it since, it was the same.
“I am going to tell you something. Claudio Bravo, Willy, who was ready to play, or Angus… they are going to make mistakes in the future. I can tell you know. They are not going to save all the goals and they are going to make mistakes and the opponents are going to score goals. I am pretty sure of that.”
So, Guardiola believes in the way he asks his goalkeepers to play and wants them to take risks and keep the ball. Fair enough. You can put Bravo’s shaky display in the Manchester derby down to nerves, the fact that he only had two training sessions at City after signing right at the end of the window and then going to South America to captain the Chilean national team and to never playing for a team in England before.
That’s not to excuse his display but just put some context behind it. That said, every team in the PL will now pressure Bravo on the ball and oposition fans will get on his back just like United’s did after his monumental mistake in the first half.
After Hart was ousted for his arrival, there’s a lot of pressure on Bravo to deliver right away at City. There’s no doubt he is good on the ball and under Guardiola’s philosophy he is the right man for the job but can City really play this way against the high-pressing style many of their Premier League opponents implement?