Fans deride City keeper Claudio Bravo – but Pep Guardiola stays loyal after romp past Huddersfield
Citizens coast into FA Cup quarter-finals despite patchy performance from their man in goal
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted he has no concerns about his goalkeeper Claudio Bravo despite the club’s supporters appearing to show their displeasure at the experienced Chilean international during a 5-1 FA Cup win over Huddersfield Town.
Bravo, who has been displaced by Willy Caballero as first choice at the Etihad, let an opening goal from Harry Bunn through his legs early in the fifth-round replay against the Championship side.
City supporters cheered sarcastically when Bravo made an unconvincing save in the first half and, again, later in the match when he caught a routine cross.
But Guardiola, who paid 15.4 million pounds (HK$149 million) for his services from Barcelona last summer, insisted the performance from Bravo was up to standard.
“You would have to ask the fans [about jeering]. The performance from Claudio was amazing, to make the build-up, nobody else can do that,” said Guardiola.
“He reads when the men are free. It’s not easy to read that. He gave us the opportunity to play. What the fans express, I’m not here to judge them.
“I am not worried about him, he’s strong enough. He’s one of the best. This year, he was named as one of the best five goalkeepers in the world.
“The people cannot imagine what a goalkeeper is. But I know how the media works. I’m delighted and so happy that he’s with us.
“I know I can count on him. I can count on his behaviour when he’s playing and when he’s not playing. He’s always involved in the team. I just congratulate him on how he played at Huddersfield and how he played today.”
Bravo’s poor start was unimportant in the end as City coasted into the FA Cup quarter-finals where they will meet Middlesbrough.
Sergio Aguero scored twice, taking his season tally to 22 goals, and Leroy Sane, Pablo Zabaleta and Kelechi Iheanacho were also on the mark for a City team that scored five for a second consecutive game, after their thrilling 5-3 Champions League win over Monaco.
For Aguero, who had lost his place after the brilliant start made by the now-injured Gabriel Jesus, the performance was particularly impressive, according to his manager.
“It was the best performance I have ever seen from Sergio in many, many things,” said Guardiola. “He was good with the ball, one against one, two against one. He didn’t lose the ball in the box.
“He scored two goals and made another one, created a lot of chances. When he plays at that level, Sergio, he is unstoppable. I’m so, so happy with the way today he played.
“I’m pretty sure he’s going to help us keep going until the end of the season.”
However, despite City having scored 10 goals in their last two games, Guardiola refused to compare City’s attacking talent with his previous teams at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“No, come on, we are what we are,” he said. “So it is better for us not to compare with anything.
“But I think the team made a good performance. We are still in the process to grow but still we are far away from being consistent and solid. Last game we score five goals and today five, so we are scoring a lot of goals, chances are arriving, we are attacking, people enjoy the way we played and the people are happy.”
Huddersfield manager David Wagner made nine changes for the replay with an eye on a big promotion game against Championship leaders Newcastle on Saturday.
“We’re playing at home and that is our fortress,” said Wagner. “There will be a sold-out crowd, I’m totally sure our supporters will create a great atmosphere – maybe the best one ever – on Saturday.
“So we have to make sure we are as fresh as we can be and try to make sure we compete better than today.”