Pep Guardiola defends squad changes as Manchester City held by Huddersfield

18 February 2017 09:39

Pep Guardiola had no regrets about rotating his squad after a much-changed Manchester City were held 0-0 by Huddersfield in the FA Cup.

The sides will replay their fifth-round tie the week after next after City, who made eight changes at the John Smith's Stadium, were frustrated by the Championship promotion-chasers.

Huddersfield also made seven changes as it was clear both managers had other priorities and, even though the addition to the fixture list was not ideal, Guardiola defended his decision.

He said: "Huddersfield rotated their players. With this schedule with a lot of games - we played three or four days ago, we had this game, we have Champions League against Monaco - these players deserved to play."

Guardiola said the replay would not affect City's plans to travel to Abu Dhabi, home of owner Sheikh Mansour, for a warm-weather training camp after Tuesday's Champions League clash against Monaco.

City, who do not have a game next weekend, were always planning to return on Saturday. Guardiola even suggested the Premier League clash with Stoke scheduled for March 11, FA Cup sixth round weekend, might have been brought forward had they not been taken to a replay.

He said: "If we didn't have a replay we would have played Wednesday against Stoke City. We are going to be two or three days there together to see our chairman.

"We are coming back on Saturday and at midday we will be in Manchester. We will have Sunday and Monday to prepare."

Guardiola did not comment on an incident during the second half at Huddersfield when a bottle was thrown in the direction of City substitutes Raheem Sterling, Bacary Sagna and Leroy Sane as they warmed up.

Sagna appeared to be sprayed by liquid and made clear his displeasure by glaring back into the crowd.

He said: "I prefer not to say anything. I don't want to be banned because normally we are banned. That is why I prefer to be quiet."

Guardiola felt his players acquitted themselves well on a pitch he thought was heavy after hosting a Super League match on Thursday.

He said: "I said a big compliment to the team because I know how difficult that game is with the pitch. Two days ago they played rugby and everything is a bit slow, they are so aggressive, they are so dynamic.

"They have a really good team, that is why they are where they are in the Championship. We will play the replay for the first time in my life and we will try and qualify.

"The first half we had our chances, the goalkeeper was brilliant. The second half maybe we played a bit better but we didn't create too many chances."

Hudderfield boss David Wagner was pleased with his side.

The German said: "If you ask me did we have some chances, yes we had two or three. But City had some very good opportunities as well and they were the better team, but we shouldn't be surprised.

"I am very proud and very happy the players stuck to their identities and we tried to play our game.

"Of course if we play one of the best teams in the world they will create some chances, but we wanted to show we are one of the fittest teams in the competition, that we are aggressive and brave enough. All of this we have proved today.

"That we now have a rematch makes me happy because I love to see my players playing matches. One game more or less, who cares? We are still in the competition."

Source: PA


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