Guardiola on Mahrez: I didn't mean to make Algerians sad

Guardiola on Mahrez: I didn't mean to make Algerians sad
Manchester City's Riyad Mahrez during warm ups before facing Bournemouth in the English Premier League soccer match between AFC Bournemouth vs Manchester City in Bournemouth, Britain, 25 February 2023. EPA/Vince Mignott

by Staff Reporter

Monday Mar 06, 2023. 13:26

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has apologised to the Algerian people for leaving Riyad Mahrez on the bench in the 2-0 victory over Newcastle on Saturday.

The Algeria international rode the pine for the third Premier League match in succession as the in-form Phil Foden was preferred on the right wing at the Etihad Stadium.

Fresh from registering a goal and an assist at Bournemouth the previous weekend, Foden opened the scoring against the Magpies after just 15 minutes before Bernardo Silva sealed victory in the 67th minute.

Mahrez has contributed five goals and four assists in 19 top-flight appearances this season but cannot dislodge Foden at the moment, with the England international finding the back of the net for the ninth time to become the youngster player to reach 50 league goals for City.

Guardiola admits there will always be someone in his squad that is upset at being left out and revealed it was impossible to leave Foden out given his rich vein of form.

“I am so sorry for the Algerian people. It’s not my intention to make you feel sad,” the Spaniard said when asked about Mahrez’s absence from the game.

“But we have other players, for example Julian [Alvarez] from Argentina – who always will be sad with me because he didn’t play. There is Sergio Gomez who is from Spain that is upset with me, also Kalvin Phillips didn’t play today and all the British people are upset with me because he didn’t play.

“I have to take decisions. I have a huge opinion about Riyad; an exceptional player. But in that moment, Phil has one rhythm higher, and Jack [Grealish] gives us a lot in terms of longer possessions too like Bernardo and his commitment to receive and be aggressive against a back-four.

“That’s why I decide today with them. I felt during the game they were playing good, they were active, that is why I didn’t make a substitution.”

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