May 13, 2022
Pep Guardiola has launched a fierce defence of his Manchester City players after Patrice Evra questioned their character and mentality following the last-gasp Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.
City suffered a late collapse at the Bernabeu to miss the chance to reach the final for the second year in a row.
– Ogden: City’s implosion in Madrid could aid Liverpool
– Dawson: De Bruyne shows why he is Man City’s key cog
Patrice Evra was the most vocal detractor but Guardiola, who has watched his team move to within four points of the Premier League title since the defeat in Madrid, was quick to remind former Manchester United defender Evra that he was part of the team which lost heavily to Guardiola’s Barcelona side in the 2011 final.
“Specialist former players like [Dimitar] Berbatov and [Clarence] Seedorf, Patrice Evra and these type of people, they weren’t there [in Madrid],” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday.
“I played against them and when I played against them I didn’t see this kind of personality when we [Barcelona] destroyed them in the Champions League final against United. It’s the same character and personality. We don’t have personality because we concede two goals in two minutes when we had two chances to score and we don’t have personality? After the last four games we score 22 goals we have incredible personality. I’m sorry but I completely disagree about this.”
Also on Friday, UEFA fined Man City €14,000 (£11,910) for the “improper” conduct of their players during their Champions League quarterfinal second leg draw against Atletico Madrid.
Meanwhile, City can take another step towards the title if they win at West Ham on Sunday.
Liverpool face Chelsea in the FA Cup final on Saturday and by the time they play again in the Premier League, City could be six points clear with a superior goal difference.
Guardiola has injury problems at the back with only Joao Cancelo, Oleksandr Zinchenko and Nathan Ake available.
Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ruben Dias have been ruled out for the rest of the season but City will give Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho as much time as possible to prove their fitness ahead of the trip to the London Stadium.
“They [Laporte and Fernandinho] are in treatment for these two days and we will see on Saturday,” Guardiola said.
“I think they will try and we will see which players are available to play. I think [until] the day of the game we will not be able to decide exactly on the availability of the players.”
If Laporte and Fernandinho don’t make it, midfielder Rodri could be forced into action at the back alongside Ake.
“I said before, if we have to handle these absences for a few months we will be in big trouble,” Guardiola added.
“But for one or two games, the players will do their best when not playing in their position. The concentration and focus when you play in another position is higher and like we saw against Wolves, they can do it fine.”