Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola stressed he did not have a problem with Leroy Sane’s attitude after he left the winger out of his matchday squad for the 2-1 victory over Newcastle.
While Sane sat things out, Kyle Walker struck a 52nd-minute winner in the Premier League clash at the Etihad Stadium after Raheem Sterling’s early opener had been cancelled out by DeAndre Yedlin.
When asked afterwards what his thinking had been regarding Sane, the 2017-18 PFA Young Player of the Year who was omitted from Germany’s World Cup squad, Guardiola said: “Last game Phil Foden was not in the squad and I was so sad for Phil, like I’m so sad for Leroy now.
“Try to work hard again and in the next games he will be ready to play.”
Guardiola was then asked if he was completely happy with Sane’s attitude, on and off the pitch, and the manager replied: “Yes.”
Last weekend Sane came off the bench in the 77th minute of the 1-1 draw at Wolves. He had also appeared as a substitute in City’s two other league games this term, the 2-0 win at Arsenal and 6-1 victory over Huddersfield.
“They know me – they convince me, I am satisfied, the moment they run and they do everything. The mistakes without the ball, taking decisions, it’s part of the process.”
Guardiola also on Saturday said of Sane on BT Sport: “Leroy was so important last season and hopefully this season will be so important.”
While Guardiola had no doubt his side had “defended very, very, very bad” when they conceded, he said he thought his team’s display overall against Newcastle had been “quite good.”
And he said of Walker’s drilled effort from outside the box, his first goal in almost three years: “It was a nice shot.
“He has that quality, with the crosses and shooting, and when he plays in that position (full-back) he can use it more.”
Guardiola also had praise for Sterling, who struck in the eighth minute of what was his 100th league appearance for City.
Guardiola said: “He scored a fantastic goal and fought a lot, and especially in the second half he played so clever.”
Champions City are third in the table, two points behind Liverpool and Chelsea, while Newcastle are 18th, having taken just one point from their four games.
The Magpies had a 5-4-1 formation for last weekend’s 2-1 home loss to Chelsea, and boss Rafael Benitez was criticised by television pundits for the defensive approach he had adopted.
Having set them up defensively again at City, the Spaniard said: “I am disappointed because we lost – it doesn’t matter against which team. They won because they are a good team, but we were in the game.
“We were close to maybe getting something and that is the positive thing for the future – to see a team that is trying to do what they have to do to maximise what we have.
“We have to do what we did, and we did well but still we need something more if we want to get points against this team, especially away.”