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“No more than that” – Pep Guardiola provides full reasoning behind Kevin De Bruyne substitution against Liverpool



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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has offered a lengthy response to questions over his substitution over Kevin De Bruyne during the second-half against Liverpool.

The Belgium international was the provider for the Premier League champions’ opener in the first-half, after his cleverly worked corner routine was finished off by John Stones at the front-post against Liverpool.

Manchester City had their lead cut by Liverpool early in the second-half, and the hosts began to take control of the contest putting the Champions’ defensive line under immense pressure whilst Pep Guardiola’s players struggled to retain possession.

In an attempt to salvage control of the ball and increase their chances of a second strike, Pep Guardiola opted to bring on Mateo Kovacic and Jeremy Doku in place of Kevin De Bruyne and Julian Alvarez – much to the disappointment of the 32-year-old playmaker.

Speaking to the media after the game, Pep Guardiola was able to offer full tactical reasoning behind Kevin De Bruyne’s withdrawal against Liverpool, whilst also insisting that the Belgian was ‘happy’ after the game despite his in-match exchange with coaching staff.

“Now he’s happy. No problem at all. I like it; if he’s upset, it’s good,” said Guardiola. “I make a decision because I know what we were missing and we missed keeping the ball, and we could not miss with him, Bernie (Bernardo Silva), and John (Stones), and the other one.

“We could not have it. And after we did it better. But listen, Kevin is… What can I say for Kevin? We need him and he’s really, really important. It’s not about him; it’s a difficult place to come to play and he tried, and in the first-half was incredible involved in all the transitions, the shots, the corner, the deliveries and many things.”

Guardiola continued, “We know it, but the moment I had in the second-half after the goal we conceded, or we gave them in that moment, the game was not in our hands. And I wanted to make something like we can keep the game back to us a little bit, and this is the idea. No more than that.”

While De Bruyne was clearly frustrated by the decision to withdraw him at a crucial phase in the game, the City mainstay will undoubtedly play a pivotal role in the upcoming matches for the reigning Treble winners.

Manchester City face Newcastle United in their next outing, hosting Eddie Howe and his players in the quarter-final of the FA Cup next weekend, before closing out March with a clash against Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium.