Arteta refuses to blame Man City loss on Guardiola absence

Manager was serving touchline ban during Lyon defeat

Pep Guardiola watched Man City’s defeat to Lyon from the stands. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

Pep Guardiola watched Man City’s defeat to Lyon from the stands. Photograph: Martin Rickett/PA

 

Mikel Arteta said he had no idea whether Pep Guardiola’s touchline absence because of suspension had anything to do with Manchester City unexpectedly losing a fourth Champions League game in a row, though the assistant coach did accept that the side had been slow and occasionally careless.

“You can’t say what would have happened had Pep been around, it’s completely hypothetical,” Arteta said. “The only reality is that we lost the game. We started quite slowly, we lost too many duels and twice in the first half we gave away the ball in dangerous areas and allowed Lyon to score both times.”

Arteta claimed his side’s reaction in the second half was superb, not an adjective that many Mancunians present would have selected, although he was probably correct in saying City created more chances after the interval than before it, even if that was not saying a lot.

“At half-time we had to react, but that is normal, whether Pep is in the dressing room or not,” Arteta said. “That happens almost every half-time, it is not a new thing, we just had to try and improve what we were doing.”

For a coach with managerial ambitions, this first-hand experience was a considerable disappointment. “I can’t really explain why we began so slowly, but sometimes in a new competition it takes a while to get on track,” he said. “We were finding it hard to come up with the right pass, we couldn’t build up any consistency and Lyon were able to take advantage.

“I don’t think it was anything to do with complacency, though, and nor would I try to use the lack of atmosphere in the stadium as an excuse. We were well aware of Lyon’s strengths and weaknesses and we were ready to make a fresh start in this competition, the way we went out last season [TO LIVERPOOL]really hurt. We have had a big wake-up call, a result we were not expecting, but it is early in the group stage and it is not too late to respond.”

The Lyon coach, Bruno Génésio, smiled politely when asked whether beating the early favourites for the Champions League constituted the greatest result in the club’s history. “We have some history and I’m not sure I would call this the greatest feat,” he said. “But it is an achievement and we should be proud of it.

“We decided to play as high as possibly to prevent Manchester City building from the back and it seemed to work. Across the 90 minutes it was a well-deserved result.”

(Guardian service)

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