Xenia Sport – London
Pep Guardiola has spoken about his dilemma regarding Manchester City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero who was an unused substitute in Saturday’s 2-0 defeat at Tottenham.
With the four-time Premier League champions trailing Spurs by two goals midway through the second half, it was Phil Foden and Raheem Sterling who were summoned off the bench to try to inspire a comeback.
No response was forthcoming and as Aguero watched on, questions were later asked over why the 32-year-old was not introduced.
Guardiola conceded the importance of the Argentinian has been further highlighted during a tricky start to the season where City have scored only 10 goals in eight league games, but the recent injury woes of the striker have also increased his caution.
Aguero missed five months of football following knee surgery back in June and when he was able to return last month, he suffered a hamstring injury in the draw with West Ham.
“I am not going to say we don’t need Sergio, we need him,” Guardiola admitted.
“But Sergio at 32 was five months injured, with a difficult and dangerous injury. He came back, played and got injured again.
“We want him and I want Sergio fit because I discover how important he is for us, with what he has done in Premier League, but we have to be careful to not get him injured again.
“We have to see the right moment to put him inside and hopefully it can be soon and he can maintain the regularity to play games.”
Injury problems have limited Aguero to three appearances this term while Gabriel Jesus, the usual deputy in his absence, has played just four times due to a quad issue.
Liam Delap, 17, was handed an opportunity by Guardiola earlier in the campaign such was City’s lack of alternatives in attack.
Those aforementioned problems have contributed towards the Manchester club struggling in front of goal and they have dropped to 13th in the table, albeit with a game in hand.
A trip to Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday will provide City with a chance to forget about their domestic form and the former Barcelona boss is positive they will get back to their old selves soon.
“I never say it is the responsibility of the players, it is my responsibility as a manager to lift them and give them everything that is possible,” Guardiola said.
“I have never been in my career of 12 years complaining or pointing to someone.
“Everyone is going to solve it. I would love to have Sergio back, Gabriel back but they are not going to solve all the situations.
“We have scored in two seasons more than 100 goals and 90 per cent of the players are the same, especially up front.
“Maybe we lose Leroy (Sane) but Leroy last season didn’t play much because he was injured all season and we still score 100 goals so we are the same.
“Football is like this. Some time one season is completely different to the other one and you have to find the moment and we will find this little way to play. We are going to get better.”
While City have scored nine times already in their Champions League group and need a win in Greece to progress to the knock-out phase, Guardiola will know the bigger test will be Saturday’s visit of Burnley.