Pep Guardiola remains cool despite hand of Boly as Man City are held at Wolves

Chris Bailey 25/08/2018
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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola refused to criticise referee Martin Atkinson after Willy Boly’s handball goal denied the champions at Wolves.

The defender turned Joao Moutinho’s cross in with his hand and City needed Aymeric Laporte to rescue a 1-1 draw.

Boly’s goal will also increase calls for the introduction of VAR in the Premier League while Sergio Aguero and David Silva had penalty claims rejected on Saturday.

“I didn’t see it. I’m not the referee, never will be,” said Guardiola on Boly’s goal and City’s penalty shouts.

When asked if VAR – yet to be introduced in the Premier League – would have helped City win and cancelled out Boly’s opener, he added: “I don’t work for the Premier League.”

Aguero twice hit the woodwork and Rui Patricio turned Raheem Sterling’s 25-yard half-volley onto the bar.

Raul Jimenez also had a first-half goal disallowed for Wolves, who took the lead through Boly in the 57th minute before Laporte headed in Ilkay Gundogan’s free-kick 12 minutes later.

“The game was expected, I’m not surprised. I’m satisfied with how many chances we created,” said Guardiola.

“I don’t have many regrets. There was a lack of rhythm sometimes but in general I’m satisfied with the performance.

“They have an excellent manager and what they have done in the Championship is excellent.

“Some points we could do better but you have to give credit to the opponents.

“We dropped two points but nothing will change after three Premier League games. It’s a long road.”

The draw set a new club record of 17 winless top-flight games for Wolves, going back to their last season in the Premier League in 2011-12.

They have drawn two and lost one of their opening three games but have impressed in every outing and boss Nuno Espirito Santo was happy to take their fortunate opener.

He said: “Last week it (a deflection against Leicester) happened against us. This is football, it’s what we have to be prepared for.

“It doesn’t matter how you score, the referee is there to judge, you have to just be ready.

“You get a goal, it’s about how you react to that. Don’t think it’s luck or unlucky, focus on your tasks and be prepared for the next action.

“It was a good performance overall. We have to be cautious and realising what you have, the opposition is the best team and the champions of the Premier League.

“It was a good game and, if there’s a but, after we score we should have managed a couple of minutes better.

“It’s a growing process, one more to work on and improve for next week.”

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Former banker Maurizio Sarri admits he's indebted to Rafa Benitez

Andy Sims 25/08/2018
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Maurizio Sarri admits he owes Rafael Benitez a debt of gratitude.

Chelsea boss Sarri took over from Benitez at Napoli in 2015 and led them to second place behind champions Juventus last season.

It was that success which led Chelsea to turn to the 59-year-old Italian to replace Antonio Conte this summer.

But Sarri insists it was his predecessor who laid the foundations, and he will get the chance to show his appreciation when the Blues travel to Benitez’s Newcastle on Sunday.

“I have to say thank you to Rafa because when I arrived in Naples I had a feeling the team was almost ready to play my football,” he said.

“If I arrived after another coach maybe for me it was more difficult, so I have to say thank you to him.

“I know he is a very good coach. We know on Sunday it will be very difficult for us.

“These opponents are very dangerous for us; last season we lost 3-0, Manchester United lost there, Arsenal lost there, so we know it will be a very difficult day.”

Sarri's Napoli pushed Juventus all the way in Serie A last season.

Sarri’s Napoli pushed Juventus all the way in Serie A last season.

Sarri is a heavy smoker but there is also another habit he cannot give up – his four-man defence.

Chelsea certainly looked defensively frail at times during the 3-2 win over Arsenal last weekend.

Yet although Conte led Chelsea to the title in 2017 after switching to five at the back, Sarri will not be following suit.

“Have we worked on defence this week? Every week,” he said.

“I am not worried about the defence. When I arrive in a new team usually I have problems with the defensive base for two months, so it’s not a problem.

“I am not able to play with five defenders. We are trying to defend by looking only at the ball and if I defend with five defenders I lose metres on the pitch.

“I’m not able. I tried it five years ago, but it’s not my way.”

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Magpies will need brains as well as heart if they're to soar above Chelsea again

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Rafael Benitez has warned Newcastle they will need brains as well as heart if they are to beat Chelsea on Tyneside for a second successive season.

A 3-0 win over the Blues in May cemented a 10th-place finish for the Magpies on their return to the Premier League and sent Benitez, his players and the fans off on their holidays wearing broad smiles.

Three months on, storm clouds have gathered over St James’ Park once again with the manager’s plans to take the club forward having prompted a distinctly lukewarm response from the club’s hierarchy, resulting in a lacklustre recruitment drive which has angered supporters.

By contrast, Chelsea spent almost £130million on just two players, keeper Kepa and midfielder Jorginho, and Benitez knows that will make a repeat of last season’s heroics all the more difficult.

He said: “We are talking about the Premier League now and the difference between teams now is so big. They are spending a lot of the money on bringing in the best players in the world, so it’s quite difficult to keep this intensity.

“Last weekend, you could see teams with great intensity still conceding a lot of goals. Why? Because the quality of the other teams is really, really good now.

“You have to find the balance and the balance means that you have to try to win, but you have to try to win using the brain, not just the heart.”

Marcos Alonso scored the winner in a pulsating 3-2 victory over Arsenal last week.

Marcos Alonso scored the winner in a pulsating 3-2 victory over Arsenal last week.

The Magpies head into the game having taken just a single point from their opening two fixtures against Tottenham and Cardiff, and kicking themselves as a result having passed up opportunities to snatch a draw against the former before squandering the chance to beat the visiting Bluebirds by missing an injury-time penalty.

Benitez did not like much of what he saw against Cardiff and has urged his players to learn from the errors which have hampered them to date.

He said: “It’s the beginning of the season, so if you don’t learn after two games, then something is wrong.

“We have to be sure that they understand what was wrong and also what we did well because we were quite positive in some things.

“But I didn’t like the game. I was not happy with the way that things were going on and we had too many problems. But still OK, we got one point. It could have been more, it could have been less.”

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