Pep says ‘behaviour’ problem led to Grealish, Foden snub

Will Ford
Man City boss Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has said improper “behaviour” led to him changing his team for the clash against Newcastle on Sunday.

The Manchester City boss made three changes from the 7-0 win over Leeds, with John Stones, Phil Foden and Jack Grealish replaced by Joao Cancelo, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling.

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Cancelo was suspended for the midweek game, so his inclusion as a natural full-back ahead of Stones was no surprise, but the omisson of Grealish and Foden was unexpected.

Guardiola denied their exclusion was part of normal rotation, instead pointing to problems with “behaviour”.

He told 5 Live Sport: “Not rotation, no. I decided for this team because they deserved to play today, these guys and not the other ones.

“At Christmas time I pay a lot of attention to behaviour on and off the pitch. And when off the pitch is not proper they are not going to play.

“So we have to be focussed all the time because of distractions at Christmas time and everything that happens – you have to still be focussed.”

Guardiola acknowledged that City were fortunate against Newcastle United.

“A good result, not a good performance. We were lucky but Newcastle did not defend well for the first goal and a brilliant action from Joao Cancelo for the second goal. The first half was one of the worst we have played this season and second half was much better,” Guardiola said.

“We played better with the ball, gave players more touches but were losing balls in the first half. We were calm at half-time and spoke about what we should do.

“It was a fantastic goal (from Cancelo), we know the quality he has in the final third and he dribbled and did it.

“Records show consistency we have as a team, it is not winning titles or finals but it is winning and winning. Records are there to be broken and happy to have them.

“I didn’t rotate today, I decide the best team, we need a different base for the players and now we have seven days until the next game. Hopefully Leicester are getting better with a lot of Covid cases so I will take a decision on the team.”