AFP Manchester, United Kingdom
Pep Guardiola has told “nice guy” Fernandinho he does not need to change his “English” style of play, despite being sent off three times in his last six appearances.
The Manchester City midfielder has missed eight of the club’s last 11 matches because of suspension, having been dismissed against Borussia Moenchengladbach in the Champions League in November, then against Chelsea and Burnley in the Premier League.
He was sent off for two bookable offences against Moenchengladbach, saw red towards the end of the Chelsea defeat on December 3 for shoving Cesc Fabregas over an advertising hoarding, and was dismissed in the first half of the victory over Burnley on January 2 for a two-footed challenge on Johann Berg Gudmundsson.
Guardiola believes the sending off against Burnley was harsh — and thinks that the Brazil international is perfectly suited to the English game.
For that reason, the City manager feels the midfielder has no need to adapt his game.
“He’s not an aggressive player,” Guardiola said. “He’s a tough player, an intense player, like players in English football are.
“He’s one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. When you’re a nice guy off the pitch, you are a nice guy on it,” the Spaniard added.
“What happened against Chelsea, we have talked a lot about, and the other action (against Burnley), I saw many of them. Many, many, many, many of them here.
“OK, we accept the ban. We don’t complain. But he’s not an aggressive guy. He’s an honest guy.
“He’s so important. We played a lot of games without him. So I’m happy he’s come back. Of course, it’s important for us. So important.”
City, who visit West Ham in the Premier League today, are getting back to form after a tricky spell during December and early January that cost them significant ground in the Premier League title race.
Guardiola went as far as to say that City’s chances of winning the title this season had gone after they were beaten 4-0 at Everton on January 15.
Better performances have followed on each of the two weekends since, with a 2-2 draw at home to title contenders Tottenham Hotspur followed by a convincing 3-0 FA Cup fourth-round win at Crystal Palace last Saturday.
Sergio Aguero, who missed the Palace game with a minor knock, is fully fit again.
With new signing Gabriel Jesus settling in after his arrival from Brazilian club Palmeiras at the start of the month, City have a wealth of options in attack as they try to secure a top-four position and Champions League qualification.
“We have seven strikers, but to be able to play at a high level, it depends on how we want to play,” Guardiola said.
“We have to try to keep going to create as many chances as possible, then after that, it’s down to our strikers to try to make the difference,” the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager added.
“But it’s impossible to have internal competition between them because I need the best from all of them to achieve our goals.”
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