Pep Guardiola vowed to practice penalties after spot-kicks proved an unexpected weakness in Manchester City‘s armoury at the Premier League Asia Trophy.
Raheem Sterling blazed over from 12 yards in normal time and City players then saw three penalties saved as they were beaten by Wolves in a shootout in Shanghai.
Ilkay Gundogan, David Silva and Lukas Nmecha all failed to beat Rui Patricio from the spot as Wolves prevailed 3-2 to claim the trophy in a poor-quality shootout at the Hongkou Stadium.
After sweeping almost all before them to win a domestic treble last season, it seems the Premier League champions have at least one area to brush up on.
City boss Guardiola said: “We didn’t expect that. I see my players take a penalty and I am always looking forward to scoring a goal but we have to practice. We’re going to practice to be better takers next time.”
That aside, defeat in unfamiliar hot and humid conditions after a week of travel difficulties was hardly a major setback for City.
There were positives, not least in the first-half performance of Kevin De Bruyne, who looked in great touch as he bids to put the injury frustrations of the past year behind him.
“He’s been top,” Guardiola said. “Unfortunately last season we missed him a lot. We did incredibly well without him but we are stronger with him.
“Last season he didn’t have a holiday but he has had more time to rest and he came back like he did two seasons ago.
“Hopefully he can keep his level. He’s incredibly positive in his mind and his quality speaks for itself. He made an incredible first half, really good.”
Wolves came through despite Conor Coady and Max Kilman also missing penalties, but their success was good reward for what has been a positive week on and off the field in China.
With Chinese ownership, Wolves have made a strong marketing push in the country and hosted a number of commercial events. Manager Nuno Espirito Santo has also worked his players well as they prepare for the start of competitive action with a Europa League qualifier against Crusaders next Thursday.
Nuno said: “The week has gone OK. We go back home better than we arrived. This was one of the main ideas from the trip to the Asia Trophy.
“We attended a lot of events and the players were patient. They had strong sessions in the morning and then had to go to events.
“All the things we accomplished this week were good. It’s good preparation for the future.
“It’s important we return healthy and we are better to start progressing, game by game, day by day, always reaching high standards.
“We go home now and prepare ourselves for Thursday.”
Arsenal‘s new technical director Edu wants everyone at the club to return to the winning mentality which made Arsene Wenger’s side invincible.
The Gunners are preparing for a second campaign under new head coach Unai Emery, who guided them to the Europa League final but could not deliver Champions League football.
Former Arsenal midfielder Edu has been appointed to the newly-created role, which the club said will see the Brazilian “coordinate the work of our first-team coaching group, the academy and player scouting and recruitment in order to oversee the constant building up and efficient strengthening of our squad”.
The 41-year-old was part of Arsenal’s unbeaten ‘Invincibles’ squad of 2004 which won the Premier League under Wenger, and later went on to play for Emery at Valencia.
Edu left a similar role with the Brazil national side following their Copa America success and has now linked up with the Gunners again on the club’s pre-season tour in the United States.
While he accepts it will not be an overnight change in mentality, it is a process Edu believes is vital if Arsenal are to compete for top honours once again, both at home and in Europe.
“To work with a strong mentality, you don’t do it like that (instantly). You build a good mentality,” Edu said in an interview with Arsenal Media.
“When you talk about mentality, it’s not only the players. The club has to have the same mentality of the players.
“We have to have the same mentality, and the mentality of Arsenal, we always had to have winning in front of us. That’s football. That’s the real world.
“When you’re talking about good jobs, doing other things, without results I’m not sure (it works). It’s unfair maybe, but the reality is like that.
“We have to fight very hard for results and we have to understand the real world, where you live and where you are right now. So we are at Arsenal, we are a big club and we have to understand the situation.
“Winning… fight for winning, and how do you do that? We have to prepare ourselves. How? By working hard, by giving everything, giving us (a chance) to be better and better, and working really hard to be where the club wants to be.”
Will Edu use his contacts to make a move for Everton? pic.twitter.com/8Rw5fjHmuO— Arsenal FC News (@ArsenalFC_fl) July 19, 2019
Edu recalled how Wenger’s squad would thrive off the continued quest for more success, which spread throughout the north London club.
“I remember we were winning a lot of things, our team was really strong and there were big names around, but the mentality of the group, the guys around, the staff, was so great,” he said.
“We were working hard but at the same time, we were enjoying it. That was important because at the time winning was important, but you have to enjoy it as well and we did that with our group.”
Earlier this week, a group of Arsenal supporters’ organisations, fanzines and blogs published a statement hitting out at Stan Kroenke’s “passive ownership” of the club.
Edu said the Arsenal board “have to understand the fans” but believes that works both ways.
“They have to understand us as well. Because we have a philosophy. The club is changing a lot, so I saw that before I signed up for technical director, I saw the many changes now Arsene has left,” the Brazilian added.
“The structure of the club changes a lot. So that’s a process, and sometimes we need time. I understand that time is going against us but we have to be aware of that. But in the end, we’re going to give to [the fans] some good things I am sure.”
Pep Guardiola has confirmed Manchester City are in the market for a new centre-back.
The Premier League champions are hoping to find a replacement for Vincent Kompany, who left the club after last season’s treble success.
But although City have been linked heavily with a big-money move for Leicester’s Harry Maguire, Guardiola insists it is not vital a signing is made.
“We will see,” the Spaniard said. “We are looking for some names but at the same time we have three centre-backs who can play there and we have two young players in the second team who can help us.
“We shall see if the market is possible and the club believes we can spend that money, but if they don’t, we shan’t spend it.”
Guardiola, who was speaking during City’s pre-season trip to China, was not willing to discuss whether Maguire was a target.
He said: “He is a Leicester player. I know some people like Bayern Munich like to talk a lot about Leroy (Sane), but usually I never speak about players at other clubs. What is going to happen, is going to happen.”
🗣️ Pep Guardiola on Rodrigo:— City Xtra (@City_Xtra) July 17, 2019
"He is a young, typical defensive midfielder who thinks very quickly. I hope he is here for a long time.
Rodrigo is tall, which for a short side like ours is very good. He is great at set-pieces but we didn't buy him for that."#MCFC pic.twitter.com/kq5vfDB3r2
One position City definitely need to find a replacement for Kompany for is that of captain.
Guardiola has said he will let the players choose who takes the armband because it is too important a decision for him.
He said: “All these things about leadership, picking this one or that one. It will happen naturally.
“I’m not going to say, ‘Now it is your turn, then it is your turn’. It’s going to come naturally. You will see who has the attitude to be captain, they will do it together. It’s never a decision I will make.
“The captain has to handle the locker room, not me. If there are problems with me, the captain represents their decisions. They have to pick their captain.
“The captain is the players’ spokesperson to me and to the club. It’s not my decision, that’s far more important than me. I will not give them a shortlist.”
Guardiola admits the departure of Kompany, who has taken up a post as player manager at Anderlecht, will leave a void.
He said: “Vincent was an incredibly important player on and off the pitch. When he was fit, he was always ready on the pitch.
“He was a very important player, he made decisions for the team. He is still an incredible player. I’m looking forward to seeing him on the touchline and seeing how Anderlecht play with him.”
Winger Sane continues to be linked with a return to Germany with Bayern and Guardiola, asked about the situation a number of times in China this week, maintains he wants to keep the player.
He said: “Hopefully he can stay this season and another one and another one. That’s why we offered him a new contract more than one year ago. He has special qualities.
“But it is his decision. We are giving everything but, in the end, if he doesn’t want, what can you do? Nothing.”
Provided by PA Media