He may be flying high at the top of the Premier League right now, but back in his first game in charge of Manchester City, Pep Guardiola required a Paddy McNair own-goal to ensure that the Sky Blues kept all three points in Manchester against Sunderland.
John Stones and Nolito – remember him – made their debuts, whilst Willy Caballero was preferred in goal to Joe Hart, as Pep made it quite clear just how little he thought of the England number one. Anyway, with Pep’s City flying high in the league at the moment, we thought we’d add his first game at Manchester City to our seven subs series.
Here are the 7 Man City subs for Pep Guardiola’s first game: Where are they now?
7. Joe Hart – West Ham
Willy Caballero was preferred to Joe Hart for Pep Guardiola’s Premier League managerial debut. It was big news at the time, and Claudio Bravo soon arrived to confirm Hart’s fate. The four-time Golden Glove winner ended up spending last season on-loan at Torino, where he received some pretty bad reviews in Italy. The 30-year-old is out on-loan once again this term, now at West Ham, where things haven’t gone much better.
6. Pablo Zabaleta – West Ham
The first two players on the Manchester City bench for Pep’s first game are both currently at West Ham. Pablo Zabaleta was a fantastic servant to Manchester City over the course of his nine year stay at the Etihad, but Pep went with Bacary Sagna at right-back for his first Premier League game. Ageing full-back’s Zabaleta, Sagna, Clichy and Kolarov all left last summer, as Manchester City completed an jaw-droppingly expensive overhaul in their full-back positions. Zabaleta joined West Ham on a free transfer, signing a two year deal with the Hammers, and he has played 32 games so far this season.
5. Fernando – Galatasaray
Upon signing for Manchester City in 2014, Fernando stated that he would give his all every time he played for the club. He left last summer after three years service, and it’s probably fair to say that he stayed true to his word. A dogged and dependable defensive midfielder, Fernando was a good player for Manchester City, he just wasn’t as good as team mate and compatriot Fernandinho. Guardiola let the uncapped Brazilian leave over the summer, and he joined current Turkish league leaders Galatasaray.
4. Jesus Navas – Sevilla
Jesus Navas always seemed like a hard worker and a good professional, but he wasn’t half one dimensional. Pick up the ball, race to the byline and try putting a ball into the box. It’s a decent skill, and one which has seen him win 35 caps and a World Cup, but it’s hardly surprising that it wasn’t enough to win over Pep Guardiola. Another problem for Navas is that his game is so heavily reliant on pace, and he is now the wrong side of 30. When the diminutive wide man was played by Pep, it tended to be at right-back, a role the Spaniard said he enjoyed. He left over the summer though, returning to his boyhood club Sevilla.
3. Fabian Delph – Manchester City
The first player in this seven who is still at the Etihad, Fabian Delph is probably having his best season with the club, playing plenty of football at left-back up until the arrival of Aymeric Laporte. Delph took an awful lot of stick when he left Aston Villa for Manchester City in 2015, and he unsurprisingly hasn’t been an automatic starter for the Citizens. A hard working and committed footballer who is naturally a central midfielder, Delph is likely to be retained by Manchester City due to his good form and homegrown player quotas.
2. Nicolas Otamendi – Manchester City
Making it a duo of players who survived Pep Guardiola’s first season at the Etihad, Nicolas Otamendi’s game has come on leaps and bounds under the world class Spanish coach. A strong and brave centre-back who seems to have all the basics right now, Otamendi isn’t as graceful on the ball as a Stones or Laporte, but he adds a steely grit and determination to the Manchester City defence. Otamendi is 30 now, and he will start for Argentina at the World Cup.
1. Kelechi Iheanacho – Leicester City
It’s been a pretty steep fall from grace for young centre-forward Kelechi Iheanacho. At one time, he seemed to score a goal every other time he got on the pitch for Manchester City, and many felt he could lead their line were it not for the brilliance of Sergio Aguero. His predatory instincts and high conversion rates were very impressive, but the arrival of Gabriel Jesus confirmed that his future would lie away from the Etihad. He joined Leicester in the summer, but he’s failed to reach the heights many expected, with only 1 goal in 15 league outings. Iheanacho is still only 21, and there’s a player in there – if he’s nurtured in the right way.