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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Ed Aarons at St Mary's Stadium

City ‘not even close to’ good enough at Southampton, admits Guardiola

Pep Guardiola admitted that Manchester City’s performance was not up to his required standards after they were dumped out of the Carabao Cup by the Premier League’s bottom side Southampton.

First-half goals from Sékou Mara and Moussa Djenepo ensured that Nathan Jones’s side set up a semi-final showdown against Newcastle as Guardiola’s hopes of winning the League Cup for a record fifth time came to an abrupt end. City struggled to create any meaningful chances at St Mary’s on a testing night for the champions, and with the Manchester derby to come on Saturday their manager warned his players that they must put this display behind them quickly.

“I know my players well and today was not even close to what we are,” said Guardiola. “They were better – Southampton deserve to be in the semi-finals. When you are not prepared to play this game you arrive one inch late and don’t score a goal. When you are prepared you score the goal. We have to accept it and improve.”

Kalvin Phillips laboured on his first start for City more than six months after joining from Leeds for £42m but Guardiola refused to blame the England midfielder for his side’s lacklustre display. “He has spent a lot of time injured but it’s not just about Kalvin,” he added. “The responsibility is with everyone when you have a bad night like this. We have to be prepared for every single game when you play for Manchester City but we were not.”

For the second match in succession, Guardiola left Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne out of his starting lineup but insisted he had no regrets over that decision. Guardiola said: “Who knows if with Erling and Kevin it would have been different? But when you play for four competitions it’s important to use every player in the squad.”

Jones, who has still yet to pick up a point from four Premier League matches since taking over as Southampton manager in November but now finds his side in the semi-finals, was delighted with his players. “It was a complete performance. I’m really proud because we’ve all had to go through a lot,” he said. “I’ve had people telling me I’m not good enough but this is a reward for the last few weeks. I’ve come here and we are trying to build something but it’s not going to happen overnight. If they give time, I will give them a team to be proud of.”

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