Transfer news: Pep Guardiola has adamantly refuted the idea that Manchester City need to — and will — sign a striker during the January transfer window, despite the fact Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus have made just 10 Premier League appearances and scored just two goals between them this season.
“Absolutely not” was Guardiola’s snap response when asked if a sought a new striker to remedy Man City’s worryingly sputtering attack, which ranks 12th in the Premier League — behind sides like Crystal Palace, Aston Villa, Leeds United, West Ham United and Southampton — with 18 goals scored in 12 games — quotes from the Guardian:
“The last 32 or 33 games we played, Sergio played four or five [because of injury] — so not much. Gabriel has incredible numbers — in terms of goals to minutes since he came to the Premier League, he is one of the top three or four in history.”
While the issue with Aguero is clearly his lengthy — and increasingly constant — injury history at 32 years of age, Jesus is only now hitting the prime years of his career which should see him suddenly make a giant leap into world-class territory. At least, that seems to be Guardiola’s hope and plan, so don’t expect much juicy transfer news out of the Etihad Stadium next month.
“[Jesus] is a guy who scores goals but it is not just on his shoulders. We took 13 corners in the last game. The central defenders can score, too — anyone can score. They all have responsibility. Everybody is involved to try and win the game.
“They are not lacking confidence, they have incredible personalities, talent. We have to be positive, aggressive, show no fear and try to score. We have to insist, insist and insist — there’s no other way. If 25 shots is not enough, we need to create more chances.
“We have to be positive, one day [the dam] will break. Be aggressive, put more players there. Compared to the last three seasons, we have to score more. Last season we were the team who scored most, even more than the champions, but unfortunately we conceded too many.”
Given the last sentence from that passage of quotes, one can’t help but wonder if Man City’s scoring woes are a “player problem,” or if Guardiola has simply overcorrected what he perceived a side lacking proper balance between defense and attack.
Theory: Perhaps Guardiola intentionally overcorrected to “fix” the defense, which only conceded 35 goals (two more than champions Liverpool) in 38 games last season, after finishing 18 points behind the Reds despite scoring 17 goals more. All the goals in the world couldn’t make the title race tight in 2019-20, therefore Guardiola targeted the one area where his side could gain considerable ground — and they have, with the joint-best defensive record in the Premier League this season (12 goals conceded, compared to Liverpool’s 19) — and in their bid to reclaim the title.