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John Stones concerns, an apology to Kalvin Phillips, Kevin De Bruyne’s future – Embargoed section: Pep Guardiola’s Brentford preview part two



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Manchester City will look to bounce back from their somewhat underwhelming outing against Chelsea on Saturday with victory against Brentford on Tuesday night.

The reverse meeting with Thomas Frank’s men is Manchester City’s game in hand on their Premier League title rivals Liverpool and Arsenal, with the original meeting scheduled for December during the Etihad club’s FIFA Club World Cup run.

It was a Phil Foden hat-trick that stole the headlines in the last meeting between City and Brentford, as the England international superstar cancelled out Neal Maupay’s first-half opener at the Gtech Community Stadium.

Rodri’s late equaliser on the weekend was all Manchester City could manage on a goalscoring front against Chelsea, as Raheem Sterling’s first-half effort ensured Mauricio Pochettino’s men would end Pep Guardiola’s side’s 11-game winning run.

Jack Grealish and Josko Gvardiol remain the only absentees for City this week, as the pair recover from muscular and ligament injuries respectively, while Bernardo Silva and John Stones remain available after their starts on the bench at the weekend.

In part two of Pep Guardiola’s address to the media on Monday afternoon, the Catalan coach discussed the likes of Kevin De Bruyne’s positional future, whether John Stones can handle two games a week, and once again, comments about Kalvin Phillips weight in 2022.

Here is every word from Pep Guardiola speaking to the media during the embargoed section of his pre-match press conference from the City Football Academy!

On whether there is any workload concern for John Stones playing more than one game per week

“No, he can do it. But also Manu (Akanji) needs to come back to his form. The game we played Manu against the previous one and Everton was not in the right rhythm and we need everyone in rhythm and Manu played really, really good (against Chelsea). And the moment we read the second-half what we should do, he increased his level.”

On the footage of him and John Stones in Copenhagen discussing tactics

“Yeah, that’s why he didn’t play the next game…”

On whether he and John Stones see the game in the same way, and whether he is a future manager

“We know eachother, and I think after (Ilkay) Gundogan was the first or second signing since I arrived here. So I think we just look at each other and we know what we want and we need, we know it perfectly. I would say I love it, to share these kind of things with my players.”

On Manuel Akanji and the difference between just playing minutes and at the right rhythm

“No, there are players that take their rhythm more quickly, but Manu (Akanji) was injured for two, three, four weeks. And I rely a lot on Manu, he’s an incredible player and I will decide who plays, that’s all. And as much games you play, the more rhythm you have. That’s normal.”

On whether he sees Manchester City’s record of clean sheets and goals conceded changing between now and the end of the season

“No, we love to have clean sheets. All the teams want it, we’re not an exception. We want the clean sheets and concede few and not concede goals; we want it. But at the end, what we want is to win games. Sometimes you have period where you’re defending well but you concede goals, and sometimes you don’t concede.

“Never since I arrived I was focussed on clean sheets, the players know it. We know it, but I don’t go to the players and say, ‘We have to take clean sheets!’ If you say just clean sheets, clean sheets, they forget to play. They forget, always just defending and they forget what they have to do.

“And what you have to do is play better, and better, and better, and concede few, and attack better and create more chances. This is my target every time I make a meeting with them or prepare a game.”

On the difference between conceding few chances and conceding goals

“It happens. I said, the average to concede few chances is the most important thing, from my point of view. But at the same time, yeah, when we concede few, and we concede goals, we have to improve it, yeah. So the goal is avoidable, and hopefully next time it doesn’t happen.”

On regrets over his ‘overweight’ comments about Kalvin Phillips

“Yeah, I’m sorry. Yeah, I’m sorry. Once in eight years is not bad, but I’m so sorry. I apologised to him, I do apologise, I’m so sorry. (He said he didn’t clear the air with you about that?) No, no, I spoke about that. Yeah, before I came here to say (it), I spoke to him. I never, never before I say something here, I don’t speak with the teams, with the players in that case.”

On the difficulty of fitting the likes of Bernardo Silva, Phil Foden, and Kevin De Bruyne into one team

“Yeah, when these guys are fit and with this quality, always it’s not easy. Always I have to drop someone. Yeah definitely, you can only play 11. But they have to be worried about just playing as best as possible for the next games. At the end I have this (problem) because I have good players on the bench and can help us, like Bernardo did in the last game, and the other players.”

On the challenge for Jack Grealish to get back in following injury given the competition

“It depends on his form, and his performance. It depends on that. It depends on him. We will need time. If one player gets injured after 10, 15 minutes it’s because still they were not fit, fit at all.”

On Kevin De Bruyne playing further forward; is that this season or where he will move in the future

“What I ask of Kevin (De Bruyne) and the position he plays is eight years the same. He never played as a holding midfielder, defending deep as a holding midfielder. So what I said in the last press conference is what he has done during all our period together.”

On Kevin De Bruyne taking more time in the final third

“No, no what I said in the press conference is Kevin (De Bruyne) has to play in the position he played during eight years and a half being together. Nothing absolutely changes, nothing. Of course he can help us. He runs incredibly and when we defend deep he helps us a lot. But what I’m saying is in the positions like we have to play, I prefer Kevin makes a high press up front and comes back and do it close to the box. Nothing I said differently that all the period (we’ve been together).”

On whether he sees Kevin De Bruyne moving further back

“No, with me, no.”

On how he dealt with opponents winding him up during his time as a player

“Well, it depends on my mood. (Would you get involved and say something back?) Listen, in my period in Barcelona, I am in the history of having the record for the most yellow cards conceded. Here as well as a manager, but all the time it was for talk, talk, talk, talk. It depends; sometimes I control, sometimes being crazy. The people say, ‘Ah here he cannot control!’ As a football player it was the same.”

On whether he will speak with Kyle Walker about not getting involved with Neal Maupay

“I don’t want it, but sometimes there are emotions and it happens. But it’s forgotten, it happened, I think they talked and that’s all.”