Juanma Lillo said that Pep Guardiola was ‘there with us the whole time’ during the 2-1 win over Sheffield United.

Juanma oversaw the last-gasp victory over the Blades, Rodrigo smashing home a brilliant winner in the closing moments.

Despite being in the managerial hotseat, Juanma was adamant that Pep was there in spirit if not in person, relaying information to the coaching staff throughout 90 frantic minutes.

In fact, such is the respect for the boss, his assistant admits he would have left his spot empty on the bench had there been enough space to do so.

“During the match I spoke to him at some moments but generally he was speaking to other members of the technical staff,” Juanma revealed.

“He has been totally present today.

“If there was more space on the bench I wouldn’t have sat in his seat.

“Pep’s seat is Pep’s seat. He was there with us the whole time.

“I much prefer being with Pep and especially when it’s a question of health I don’t enjoy this at all.

“When I was here before - and now - he was encouraging us all to be involved. We need his presence more than ever.”

Rodrigo may have been the match winner in the Bramall Lane victory but Juanma was impressed with Erling Haaland’s ‘mental fortitude’ during the 90 minutes.

Haaland reacted brilliantly from a penalty miss to score against the Blades.

Our powerful No.9 crashed a spot-kick against the post in the first period but the Premier League Player and Young Player of the Year positively channelled his frustrations and was rewarded with the opening goal.

Juanma was delighted with how he reacted to that initial setback.

“Today would have been difficult for any striker how it played out in the first half,” added Juanma.

“There is the penalty which was frustrating but that can happen to any striker, not just Erling.

“What it does show and not just because he scored, it really shows his mental fortitude to keep going.

“That’s really difficult to find and he showed it today.

“He is young but his mindset is so good.”