Pep Guardiola

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Report: Man City considering Kingsley Coman as Leroy Sane replacement

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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are considering Bayern Munich’s Kinglsey Coman as a replacement for injured Leroy Sane if he were to leave for the defending German champions over the summer, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sane, who is projected to be out until February or March with an ACL injury, was the subject of a $176 million move to Bayern Munich over the summer, but a move never came to fruition, largely due to the aforementioned injury. If negotiations between Sane’s camp and the defending Bundesliga champions pick up again this summer, City have a replacement in mind: 23-year-old Coman.

Coman, who has played in 10 league games for the Bavarian club this season, was managed by Guardiola during his time with the club and flourished during the title-winning 2015-2016 season. In 2017, the Frenchman revealed that the Spaniard’s departure was tough on him, saying, “I found life easier at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola.”

As expected, Coman is not the only option City are exploring.

Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, who has a reported $82 million release clause, is also on the Premier League giant’s shortlist. Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, has strong ties to La Reala that goes back to his first day in the sport.

At the Etihad, the general feeling from Guardiola’s players is that the German winger is one foot out of England, and is instead focused on a move to Bayern and a return back home. With his contract in the final 12 months this summer, it is expected that the release clause for Sane will not be as lucrative as before. 

In 134 appearances for City, Sane has scored 39 goals, while Coman has scored on 28 different occasions in 139 appearances.

Report: Van Bronckhorst to take NYCFC job as Man City pre-test

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Giovanni van Bronckorst is going to get a sort of Man City dress rehearsal in Major League Soccer.

On the heels of a September report that Van Bronckhorst was being eased into City Football Group with an “all-access pass” to Pep Guardiola, The Daily Mirror has issued a new one.

[ MORE: 1-on-1 with Claudio Reyna ]

Van Bronckhorst has been familiarizing himself with all of City Football Group’s clubs, the report says, and will take hold of New York City FC under old friend Claudio Reyna with a view to a bigger job within the company.

Sources in Holland insist that Van Bronkhorst would be unlikely to accept the New York job if there was no plan for him to eventually move into a more prominent role inside the CFG.

He has Champions League experience and has a number of close friends inside the group, including former Rangers team-mate Claudio Reyna, who is New York’s director of football.

The idea is that Van Bronckhorst is of very similar mind to Pep Guardiola, and that Man City wants to keep the same style of football once the Catalan genius decides to leave Manchester.

Here’s the only odd note of that report, assuming that Van Bronckhorst brings the A-game that saw him win the Eredivisie and two KNVB Cups with Feyenoord: This appointment seemingly presumes that Mikel Arteta is not considered first choice to replace Guardiola when he leaves town (although perhaps Arteta has told the club he’ll be looking for a first chair job before Pep skips town, or has been told he needs first chair experience to be under consideration for the gig).

Guardiola is contracted through 2022, and it’s reasonable to think he could leave early if the side wins its first Champions League or comes back to claim the Premier League’s first league three-peat since Manchester United turned the trick in 2009.

Guardiola’s postmatch stubbornness is petulant, not defiant

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“What happened today, we showed why [we] are champions,” Pep Guardiola said with a shake of the head, his arms crossed and wry smile creeping across his face. “I am so proud of my team, more than ever. We can be proud of how we played against the strongest team in Europe. We played like back-to-back champions.”

[ MORE: PL title is Liverpool’s to lose ]

Those were his words after a comprehensive 3-1 defeat at Anfield where Liverpool yet again confounded one of the game’s greatest managers at maybe his most imposing House of Horror. Manchester City was time and again ripped apart at the back by Liverpool’s class on the ball and cunning off it.

Yet here was Pep Guardiola, fresh off a vigorous handshake with the referees at the final whistle that dripped with the sarcasm of a child having recently been grounded, claiming his team produced “one of the best performances we have played.”

Liverpool was, to put it simply, better than Manchester City on the day. The players Guardiola picked in the team struggled mightily, with his full-backs Angelino and Kyle Walker both culpable on Liverpool goals while Joao Cancelo looked on from the bench and expensive Frenchman Benjamin Mendy wasn’t even in the squad. Sergio Aguero toiled through yet another fruitless performance at Anfield and Gabriel Jesus was too little too late as the only Man City substitute of the day. 34-year-old midfielder Fernandinho was preferred to natural defender Nicolas Otamendi at center-back alongside John Stones.

Guardiola’s rage stemmed mostly from an early penalty decision that went against the visitors, with the ball clearly striking Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s arm in the box just moments before Fabinho‘s sixth-minute opener. Referee Michael Oliver had an excellent view of the incident and judged Alexander-Arnold’s arm to be in a natural position, and while that original decision could be coherently argued as controversial (not by this article’s author), VAR finally handled a judgement call correctly by not reviewing the incident, as the debate proves the potential refereeing error was far from “clear and obvious.”

After Guardiola’s embarrassing post-match handshake, he was naturally asked about the early decision. While the City boss averted the question, he made his thoughts clear enough by calling out not the on-field referee Oliver, but instead the booth officials in his thinly veiled deflection “ask [PGMOL chair] Mike Riley and the guys who are in the VAR, don’t ask me.” He believed the decision should have been reviewed. Sorry Pep, but quite plainly, it should not, and was not. Move on.

The manager was far from the only party to shoulder blame in defeat. Kevin De Bruyne‘s usual brilliance eluded him from the opening whistle through the final push. Raheem Sterling, who has so often shouldered Man City’s burdens the past two seasons, was dangerous throughout but lacked a finishing touch. Ilkay Gundogan‘s laziness contributed heavily to the Liverpool opener. Even Man City’s best player Rodri was yellow carded for dissent on a frustrating day.

The flaws of the defending champions were on display for all to see. Injuries have ravaged this team’s back line with defenders Aymeric Laporte and Oleksandr Zinchenko out long-term, while goalkeeper Ederson was felled midweek in Champions League play. Jose Mourinho made a handful of enemies during his Premier League tenures by claiming his teams played well when they clearly did not, and Guardiola’s post-match defiance was a page out of Mourinho 101. The Spaniard has not yet gone down that road entirely, but he would be wise not to take more steps in that direction, for it is petulance, not defiance, that his post-match antics oozed after Sunday’s humbling loss.

The season is far from over – an eight-point lead in November is far less than many have made it out to be in yesterday’s aftermath. How quickly we forget just last season City’s title run included erasures of a seven-point deficit by New Year’s and a five-point Liverpool advantage in early February. Still, for the Man City boss to pass a sound defeat as “so good” and cast doubt on solid refereeing is not a show of fortitude, it is a child-like tantrum that denies the eyes and ears of the fans who watched, clear as day, their two-time defending champions beaten soundly at a stadium that continues to get the best of Pep Guardiola.

Guardiola: ‘Ask the referees, don’t ask me’ about handball non-call

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“Ask the referees, don’t ask me.”

That’s how Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola dismissed talk of the uncalled Trent Alexander-Arnold handball that came moments before Liverpool scored its wonderful opener in a 3-1 win at Anfield on Sunday.

“Ask Mike Riley and the guys in VAR,” he said. “I would like to talk about our performance, it was so good. It was one of the best performances we have played.”

[ MORE: Match recap | JPW’s 3 things from Anfield ]

The relative calm was a massive departure from how Guardiola left the pitch after a second, less intriguing handball shout to Alexander-Arnold after City had cut the three-goal lead to two.

Waving his hands frantically with two fingers raised on the touch line before sarcastically shaking Michael Oliver’s hand after the game, Guardiola struck two very different figures in a short period of time.

Guardiola went on to laud both teams for their performances.

Although we think he liked his team’s performance a bit more than he should — the last pass/decision was not where it usually is — City did have more possession, more shots, better passing, and won the aerial battle.

“We played like back-to-back champions. We cannot deny how good Liverpool are but the way we played, the personality, it was good.

“It was quite similar to the Champions League game. It was an incredible situations in that game too but the performance today was so good. Always we try, never give up that is why we are back-to-back champions. Always fight until the end.

“It is important to grow as a club and as a team. It was an honor for both team to show Premier League to spectators this type of game.”

Pep: ‘I have never felt like’ an underdog ahead of Liverpool test

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Don’t expect Pep Guardiola to give his Manchester City squad a rallying, “No one thinks we can win” speech before Sunday’s match against Liverpool at Anfield (Watch live at 9 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

[ MORE: PL Sunday Preview ]

Yes, City is injured, sits six points back of Liverpool, and has not won at Anfield since 2003, but Guardiola doesn’t view the situation as dire.

Not at all. From Sky Sports:

“The people outside the club, the people in the media they try to call us underdogs or not underdogs,” Guardiola said. “I have never felt like this. Never.”

Guardiola realizes that Liverpool has been fantastic and has a decent table advantage for this stage of the season.

But he’s simply confident, and doesn’t even stick the knife in regarding last season’s loss of a bigger table lead.

“Of course, they are six points ahead and have played fantastic all season, but I’m not going to take a bus to Anfield thinking I am going to lose the game. I never have thought that in my career. Always I think of something special to do and we will have our chance to win.

“We know to win this game we must be at our top level. We need an incredible attention to detail. You must believe you can win the game, but we will see what will happens.”

Is it 11:30 a.m. ET yet?