Friday, February 23, 2024

Pep on Spanish media games, Haaland fitness and Toney

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Simon Stone, BBC Sport

Pep Guardiola has spoken to the media before Manchester City’s Premier League game at Brentford.

Here are the main lines from his news conference:

  • Responding to speculation from Spain that striker Erling Haaland is unhappy in Manchester: “You have to ask the media from Madrid – maybe they have more info than we have! We don’t have that feeling. We cannot say he didn’t adapt quickly and he was not fine since he arrived. It’s the level he showed since he arrived on day one. We cannot control what people say.”

  • On whether Haaland is fit to start at Brentford: “He’s ready. Everybody is ready because they are not injured.”

  • Guardiola also recognised Haaland’s immediate value to the team in his cameo against Burnley: “We played for 25 minutes and in every transition, every pass, all the players looked at him. I know how important he is for us. If we are comfortable and good, he will get a lot of balls. After that, he will do the rest.”

  • John Stones is in contention to start but Guardiola concedes he is still not operating at 100%: “He is good. His injury wasn’t muscular and the risk to the ankle is minor. He still needs to make steps forward. He’s not the John Stones from last season but he had many injuries so now step-by-step, he can avoid injuries.”

  • He is well aware of the threat posed by Ivan Toney, who scored both goals in a 2-0 win at the Etihad Stadium in November 2022: “He’s an exceptional player, not just with goals but link-up play and set pieces. Hopefully that period (around his eight-month FA ban) is forgotten. Exceptional players are always more than welcome in the Premier League.”

  • Brentford could become the first team since Liverpool between 2015 and 2016 to beat City in three consecutive Premier League games: “We know in the past how difficult it has been. It was always tight when we won and [then] when we lost the two games last season. They are a difficult team for the way they play and the standards that they have. The manager is good. The club rely on him for many years. Everyone who comes knows exactly what they have to do.”

Follow all of Friday’s Premier League news conferences

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