Fernando: Changes did not affect Manchester City at Huddersfield

19 February 2017 12:08

Midfielder Fernando insists Manchester City's failure to get past Huddersfield on Saturday had nothing to do with the changes made to the side.

City must replay their FA Cup fifth-round tie against the Sky Bet Championship outfit after being held to a goalless draw at the John Smith's Stadium.

With Tuesday's Champions League clash against Monaco in mind, manager Pep Guardiola made eight changes for the game, but Fernando dismissed that as a factor to give credit to the hosts.

The Brazilian said: "I don't think that influenced us. We train every day and we listen to what our manager says, it didn't affect us.

"Maybe some players didn't get into the rhythm but we played well. Unfortunately we didn't score.

"We had chances and, of course, we wanted to score and win but they played well and the result was difficult for us.

"We knew they were a good team, we watched their games and knew their qualities. They are third in the Championship, so we knew they were going to be difficult."

City's changes included a start for top scorer Sergio Aguero after three games as a substitute but the prolific Argentinian was out of luck in front of goal, being denied by Joel Coleman.

Another returning player, goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, did make a key contribution with two good saves from Rajiv van La Parra and another from a Jack Payne free-kick. Philip Billing also had a goal disallowed for offside.

City had another good opportunity when Coleman saved from Nolito and Mark Hudson cleared Jesus Navas' follow-up attempt off the line.

The sides will now meet again at the Etihad Stadium a week on Tuesday.

Fernando said: "We must now focus on the replay of this game. Our target is to win as many trophies as possible and we are still alive in three competitions."

Huddersfield acquitted themselves well, taking the game to their opponents, despite their seven changes also making clear their priorities lie elsewhere.

David Wagner's men are third in the Sky Bet Championship and host fourth-placed Reading in a crucial match on Tuesday.

Wagner said before the game Huddersfield were one of the smallest clubs in the Championship in terms of budget, but with big potential. That was underlined by a stadium record crowd - for a football match - of 24,129.

Wagner said: "I know we are competitive with our weapons, and we have different weapons - enthusiasm, energy, euphoria, fitness - but maybe not the biggest budget. This was why I said we are the smallest club.

"But, for sure, we are a club who improves, who is hungry, who is greedy, who give ourselves no limits.

"With this support and this atmosphere we have taken another step in the right direction to improving as a football club."

For Wagner, maintaining these standards are more important than the result of the replay.

He said: "Before every match I have no idea if we will win it, but I believe we can show a good performance and our identity in Manchester."

Source: PA


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