Quick links

Manchester City

Pep Guardiola's brutal Manchester City press conference

Football Soccer - Manchester City news conference - International Champions Cup China - Shenzhen Stadium, Shenzhen

Joe Hart is free to leave, Yaya Toure must work harder, but Kelechi Iheanacho is 'special' and a trio of injured players are close to return.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola did not hold back in his pre-match press conference ahead of his first trip to the Britannia Stadium.

After gaining a reputation for being the loudest ground in the United Kingdom when managed by Tony Pulis, there have always been questions whether the most eye-catching teams can "do it on a cold Tuesday night at Stoke".

However Guardiola has no concerns ahead of the Saturday's lunchtime kick-off.

Speaking to journalists, courtesy of Manchester City's official website, he said: "We’re not going to complain that the pitch isn’t good. It’s 11 v 11 on the pitch. We are going to try to fight for the title so we are going to try to adapt.

General view - Britannia Stadium

Two players that are unlikely to feature for City are goalkeeper Joe Hart and midfielder Yaya Toure.

The two have been synonymous at the Etihad in the last five seasons, winning everything on offer apart from a Champions League. 

Yet there is a new era at City under the ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss, and after phenomenal success playing his own brand of football, he has made it clear those not suited to his system will be sent packing.

Commenting on Hart, he said: "I want happiness for the players. If they are not happy, I don't want players to stay here. Manchester City brought me here to try and play the way I like, the way I grew up.

"I spoke with Joe from the first time we met in China, I've tried to be clear to him. I know his values and his talent but I know what I am looking for. He has to understand what we want from our goalkeeper."

Manchester City's Joe Hart warms up with Willy Caballero before the match

However, Guardiola has not closed the door on a return for Hart, claiming that he can improve under his guidance.

"I met a lot of players who had their problems, but after one month, two months, they are the best in their position. I said to Hart, if he stays he will improve.

"Right now Willy Cabellero is a better goalkeeper. But that doesn't mean that Willy is going to play the whole season and Joe will not."

And after claiming that the "situation is the same for a number of players", Guardiola explained his reasoning for not including Toure in either of his previous squads, insinuating that he is not good enough off the ball. 

He said: "Yaya is trying very well, he loves football. He has huge quality. I spoke with him about his situation, when he increases his intensity without the ball, he will be involved." 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola with Yaya Toure as he is substituted as Raheem Sterling (L) prepares to come on

One City icon that is close to a return is captain Vincent Kompany, who missed Euro 2016 due to an injury. 

"We need one or two more tests but he is back in training. I think he is in the last part of his recovery. I'm waiting for the doctor to say he's ready. He will help us a lot this season, I know how good he is!"

Two players to have joined Kompany in training are German internationals Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan, who arrived at City from the Bundesliga this summer. 

"Leroy made his first part of the training session, he still has a little muscular problem but in two weeks when we’re back from the national team break, he’ll be ready.

“Ilkay came back to training with the group today like Leroy. It’s good news, he’s a good player."

Another player fit to go is 19-year-old Kelechi Iheanacho, who signed a new five-year contract on Thursday, and Guardiola praised the player.

"His intensity is high and when the ball is in the box, he is always there. He has something special in the box."

Manchester City's Kelechi Iheanacho misses a chance to score

City are without right-back Bacary Sagna after he picked up a knock in the 5-0 rout over Steaua Bucharest on Tuesday, but other than that, not much will be changed.

Guardiola finished: "It’s not time to change a lot because I don’t want to confuse my players but I have to say, I am impressed the most that they are so intelligent.

“The way we played in Bucharest was a high, high level. We did it so quickly. That’s because of the intelligence and quality of the players."

Register for MANCHESTER CITY team updates

Register for HITC Sport - Daily Dispatch