Manchester City bounced back from its weekend loss to Norwich City by dominating Shakhtar Donestk, collecting a 3-0 win in Ukraine to start life in this UEFA Champions League season.
Ilkay Gundogan, a scapegoat for some in the weekend’s loss to Norwich City, came back to form, too, chipping in a goal and an assist in the win.
[ RECAP: Shakhtar Donetsk 0-3 Man City ]
City manager Pep Guardiola was asked whether the German midfielder flies under the radar.
“He gets the credit from all of us, not just myself,” Guardiola said, via The Manchester Evening News. “He’s an exceptional player. Also he knows how good he has to play, as there are many others in that position.”
Guardiola also credited Gundogan for his work last season. Just like Fernandinho is playing out-of-position now, Gundogan was filling in for the Brazilian last season.
“People are starting to look at what he’s done. Without him last season when Fernanindho was out we couldn’t have won the Premier League in the way we did. He can play in two or three different positions and against Shakhtar he made an outstanding performance.”
As for Fernandinho, the Brazilian said that he’s been training at center back plenty this season, even before injuries to John Stones and Aymeric Laporte.
Fernandinho said “everyone should be ready” for any role under Guardiola.
He was good enough on the day, partnering with Nicolas Otamendi in a move that has many making comparisons to what Guardiola did with midfielder Javier Mascherano at Barcelona.
That’s one of the things for which Guardiola, perhaps, has not received enough credit. Center midfielders Fabian Delph or Oleksandr Zinchenko have been serviceable left backs in two of the best seasons in Premier League history (The latter did get some minutes in the middle when Benjamin Mendy subbed in on Wednesday). And Gundogan is playing a more defensive role than usual, while Fernandinho is a center back.
If that works out, and City claims a UCL crown or PL three-peat, how could you not call this man the clear-cut best of the modern era?