Men’s Team

125 Years | Pep: Mendy has a unique quality

IN THOUGHT: Pep Guardiola ahead of Saturday's game against Watford.
Pep Guardiola believes Benjamin Mendy’s attacking qualities could prove to be a key attribute as City enter another packed schedule.

The Frenchman returned to action in Wednesday night’s Champions League group stage triumph at Shakhtar Donetsk, having been sidelined with a knee problem since the 2018/19 quarter-final visit of Tottenham in April.

READ: 125 Years | Gabriel Jesus a special striker, says Pep

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Admired for his threat down the left flank, Mendy has been tipped to bolster City’s attacking prowess but Guardiola warned the defender may need time to ease back into regular gametime.

The first step is to play consistently and not get injured,” he stated.

“It was weeks and weeks and months of training. We did it the last month, which is a good sign, and then, he played his first minutes.

“Now, he will play more regularly but he has to understand what we have to do because he went two seasons without training or playing regularly.

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“He is a guy that has to practice to understand things. He has to train and play and play and play. He will be an incredibly important player for us.

"With him, we can attack more constantly and in a different way – he has a special quality that only he has in our team.

“With Oleks Zinchenko, we cannot attack wide or deep. His quality is completely different. With Mendy, we can do it so hopefully, he can be fit and healthy, and play.”

As City look to bounce back from Saturday’s Premier League setback at Norwich, Guardiola also called for calm.

“Of course, we are not going to win the next ten Premier Leagues in a row,” he said. “Not necessarily this one or the next five. It’s not going to happen.

“I'm not concerned about that. I'm concerned that in every game, we try to be close to who we are in our strong points - and we have many.

“If people believe what Norwich have done is the way to beat us, they have to do it. It’s normal.

“We will find a solution to what they have done. Football with the same players as last season, playing the same way, maybe cannot work - or maybe one year, a player or manager has different personal problems.

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“Everything takes influence and it can have a big impact on the performance of the whole team. It can happen.

“In the first year, we lost more often than in the last two seasons. In sport, it's part of the process - losing is a normality.

“The exception was what we did two seasons ago and what City and Liverpool did last season.

“We are a good team, we are consistent and we will try to do it again on Saturday and then in Preston.

“This season has just begun. There are many months coming and there is more to come - that is the best sentence. We will see in a few months.”

Guardiola also discussed the importance of Fernandinho, after the Brazilian stepped into the central defensive position in Ukraine in John Stones and Aymeric Laporte's absence.

“He is a joy of a player,” he declared. “What he has done for all of us, and for me as a manager, during this time together, is incredible.”

UEFA Champions League: Group Stage tickets

Buy Man City tickets for this season’s UEFA Champions League Group Stage against Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta.

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