Guardiola reluctant to talk up on-loan star Roberts

Date published: Wednesday 7th December 2016 6:59

Pep Guardiola seemed reluctant to talk up Patrick Roberts after the on-loan Manchester City forward scored against his parent club for Celtic.

Teenager Roberts struck just four minutes into his return to the Etihad Stadium as Scottish champions Celtic held City to a 1-1 draw in their final Champions League Group C game.

Roberts, signed by City in an £11million deal from Fulham last year, joined Celtic on an 18-month deal in February.

Asked for an opinion on the 19-year-old’s performance, City manager Guardiola said: “He scored a good goal.”

Guardiola was then asked whether Roberts could have a future at City.

The Spaniard, speaking in his post-match press conference, said: “We are going to talk about it at the end of the season.”

Pushed further, Guardiola finally offered more praise.

He said: “We know his quality but the decision is not about one game. It is for one season for the perspective.

“We are going to speak with him, the managers (agents), between each other we are going to decide.

“He has good quality with the winger, one against one. He worked defensively. He has, of course, potential. I am so happy with his performance, of course.”

Guardiola’s opposite number Brendan Rodgers was more forthcoming on the display of Roberts, whose early strike was quickly cancelled out by Kelechi Iheanacho.

The former Liverpool manager said: “It couldn’t have been easy for him but the kid showed his quality.

“He showed he’s in the right place at this stage of his career. It’s no good him sitting on the bench.

“It’s great that City allow him to play in a game like this. You’ve seen a top, young English talent here – a brilliant goal, pressed the game well and showed all his qualities.

“I’m very proud of him in terms of his concentration and quality in the game.

“You come to Celtic, 60,000 every other week and a huge club with big expectancy. He’s dealing with that remarkably well. He’s won titles and is understanding about becoming a winner.

“I’m sure he’ll come back here in the summer and Pep and his staff will have a real good look at him. They will be really encouraged with what they’ve seen here.”

With City already assured of qualification and unable to take top spot in the group, and with Celtic destined to finish last, there was nothing riding on the game.

The intensity was lacking in the second half but Guardiola, who made nine changes, was pleased enough with City’s performance.

He said: “I am so happy. We played really good against a good team. The experienced players helped a lot the young players and it was a good experience for them. I am so happy to give them the opportunity to play in the Champions League.

“The game was good for the spectators, both teams tried to attack. It was good. It was fun. It was a pleasure to play against Celtic of Glasgow.”

Rodgers felt Celtic, who drew 3-3 with City in September, more than held their own again.

He said: “I thought it was a brilliant team performance. Manchester City want to press you and get up close but I thought our control of possession and position in the game was very good.

“It led to us getting an opening goal we thoroughly deserved. We’re disappointed with the equaliser – we got stretched a little bit – but then for the remainder of the game, how we pressed and forced Manchester City to play a lot of long balls, won the ball back and built the game up, we showed great composure.

“The energy and quality of our game was at a really high level. We’re disappointed we didn’t win because we had chances but overall I’m delighted with our passing, movement and speed in our game.”

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