Pundit: ‘No surprise’ that Guardiola goalkeeper gamble didn’t pay off

Dan Butterfield
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola

Former Liverpool midfielder Danny Murphy has admitted it came as no surprise that Manchester City made defensive errors in their FA Cup semi-final.

City were beaten 3-2 at Wembley by Jurgen Klopp’s side who raced into a three goal lead by half time, thanks to a Ibrahima Konate header and a brace from Sadio Mane.

16 Conclusions: Liverpool beat Man City in FA Cup semi-final

City did pull two back in the second half through Jack Grealish and a late Bernardo Silva finish, but the damage had been done and Liverpool advanced to the final.

Ahead of the game, Guardiola surprised many with his team selection. He was unable to call upon Ruben Dias, Kyle Walker and Aymeric Laporte due to injury but also decided to bench goalkeeper Ederson and holding midfielder Rodri.

Back-up goalkeeper Zack Steffen was brought in and the decision seemed to back fire as his costly error gave Liverpool their second.

And Murphy has admitted the error came as no surprise to him.

Speaking to the Daily Mail, Murphy said: “The call to play Zack Steffen in only his fourth City match of the year was the key selection decision at Wembley. It’s no reflection on Steffen’s ability but more the circumstances of the game.

“Whereas Jurgen Klopp was able to put Caoimhin Kelleher behind Liverpool’s regular back-four in the Carabao Cup final, Steffen was an extra change City didn’t need without Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte.

“Steffen lined up with only one of City’s first-choice defenders, Joao Cancelo, and even he had to slot in at right-back after playing on the left most of the season.

“So it’s no surprise there was less cohesion than usual and that might have contributed to the American completely throwing away an early goal by taking a poor touch in front of Sadio Mane.

“City’s weakness in that area was amplified by the brilliant save Alisson made from Gabriel Jesus when Guardiola’s team were trying to fight back at 3-1.

“The City line-up was already weaker without key defenders and the injured Kevin De Bruyne. It wasn’t the right time to recall Steffen even if he has been their FA Cup goalkeeper this season.

“As for Alisson, he is turning into one of the greatest Premier League goalkeepers and if he stays at the club could one day be seen as a true Liverpool goalkeeping legend alongside Ray Clemence.”