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Winter training camp, Jeremy Doku injury details, Phil Foden problems – Embargoed section: Pep Guardiola’s Sheffield United reaction part two



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Pep Guardiola has offered an insight into the longer than first thought injury problem sustained by Jeremy Doku, during his reaction to Manchester City’s victory over Sheffield United on Saturday afternoon.

The Premier League champions closed the gap at the top of the division to just two points with a game in hand, prior to Liverpool’s meeting with Newcastle United at Anfield on Monday, despite a difficult run of form in the league earlier in the month.

A totally dominant performance from Manchester City saw Pep Guardiola’s players command a staggering 86% ball possession, and complete 938 successful passes across the 90 minutes – the second-highest total on record (since 2003/04) in the league.

Rodri opened the scoring for Manchester City on a jubilant afternoon at the Etihad Stadium, as fans celebrated the five trophies won by the club across the 2023 calendar year, before Julian Alvarez doubled the lead in the second-half.

Kevin De Bruyne also made his return to the Manchester City matchday squad after four months ruled out through injury, having undergone surgery on a hamstring problem in early August.

Speaking to the media after a comfortable afternoon’s work against Chris Wilder’s Premier League strugglers, here is every word from Pep Guardiola’s embargoed press conference.

On whether there was any temptation to bring Kevin De Bruyne on at the end of the game against Sheffield United

“No. He’s close, almost close, but we asked eachother to come to the bench, to start to be in the locker room. It’s three months out, I think so, so it’s a lot of time he’s been out. So be involved already, but he’s close. He’s close and he’s training good and he will start to get minutes and minutes to get to his best.

“But this is incredible news, like we are waiting for Jeremy (Doku), we are waiting for Erling (Haaland), John Stones, because the second part of the season is already here! January will come soon, and it will disappear soon because we have three, potentially four, games.

“And after in February, the Champions League is here, and in the last part of the season we need everyone, and it’s incredible news that Kevin is back, and Erling as well, and Jeremy as well.”

On Jeremy Doku’s return from injury

“Yeah, nobody asked me about Jeremy, just Kevin (De Bruyne) and Erling (Haaland), Kevin and Erling, Kevin and Erling… It’s soon, soon I think he’s back. They are a bit cautious because he’s so explosive, one-against-one, and muscular, but I think for the next weeks he will be ready, I hope so.”

On Phil Foden progressing in midfield

“In that position he’s… I said before, we can make crosses but it’s not our style because we don’t have the players for that and after the players move in the pockets and have to be aggressive – and Phil is exceptional with that!

“Everyone Rodri and Mateo (Kovacic), and after Manu (Akanji), contact with him and he can turn and attack. Especially in the second-half when we moved a little bit his left side, our left side, with Oscar (Bobb) and Josko (Gvardiol) we created a lot of damage in that position because they are really, really good! Rico (Lewis), when he came in, there are guys in the smaller spaces that are good and teams that are set back like this, we need this type of players.

“Like David Silva from before, for example. Or (Ilkay) Gundo, for example. They are really, really good in these spaces. That’s why I’m really pleased that Phil again, since after Crystal Palace, I think he learned the lesson, and Urawa (Reds), Fluminense, Goodison Park, and today, he had been outstanding – all four of his games have been top, top, top class. Playing good, and scoring goals, and assists, and all the important things that we need of him!”

On what Phil Foden did wrong against Crystal Palace

“He lost the ball, he decelerated the actions, but he’s so young, so it happens. And after, when he lost the ball, he felt guilty and wanted to solve it, and he gave away a penalty – it was five against one, five against two. And we talked about it, with all the team, not just one, so in that position in the box and if we feel they’re going to score? Calm!

“Putting the ball in the net is the most difficult thing for us, and for the opponent as well! And when you are not alone, and it’s four or five players, calm! But it’s part of the process, so in that moment he felt so bad because he’s an incredibly lovely guy for the team, and for himself, but it’s lessons to learn!

“Hopefully it’s the last time it happens, but it’s football and sometimes it’s human beings, it happens.”

On what Manchester City will do in January

“Yeah, after Newcastle, if it’s possible, we’ll go to Abu Dhabi again, all together.”

On the benefits of a warm weather training camp in Abu Dhabi

“Well last season we were there during the World Cup and it had an incredible impact for the staff and everyone, the five titles proved it. And we’ll go there to train, better weather, to be together, training, training, and training, and to prepare for the second part of the season. That is, today, is the plan, but maybe we’ll change the process, I don’t know.”

“Happy New Year for everyone, guys, you and your families, your loved ones!”