Pep Guardiola suggested Man City’s academy is fostering numerous first-team bound players and labelled Adebayo Akinfenwa ‘a legend’ after their win over Wycombe.
Guardiola had admitted in the build-up to Tuesday’s game his hands were tied by a number of injuries to City’s first-team players, and watched on as the five debutants he named to face League One Chairboys played their part in a 6-1 hammering at the Etihad.
The margin of victory was sealed by 19-year-old Cole Palmer’s sensational curling effort in his first goal for the club late on, but left-back Josh Wilson-Esbrand also caught the eye when making City’s second goal before half-time on an encouraging night for the club’s young prospects.
“I just have to say thank you to the academy,” Guardiola said after the game. “They all do an incredible job.
“You have the feeling that we have not just one or two potential players but many of them. The academy gives them the right values to become good professional players and they have the talent.
“We have the feeling that we can count on them. We saw it today a little bit and we know how good they are. As manager of the first team, I can enjoy it, I can use them.”
Akinfenwa ‘the legend’
Guardiola may not have known much about 39-year-old veteran striker Akinfenwa prior to the build-up to Tuesday’s encounter.
After a near-miss from a header and a typically lively attacking showing from the forward though, he was certainly aware of his threat come full-time and said he would use the experience to help his young guns prosper – with none of his back four born when Akinfenwa made his professional debut in 2001.
“They faced a legend of English football, it was an absolute pleasure to meet him,” Guardiola said of Akinfenwa.
“It’s not easy to do it but they did very well. We are going to review the game and show them how to solve the problems. But there was not one bad performance.”
De Bruyne ‘needs pre-season’
Kevin De Bruyne took the captain’s armband in what was only his second start of the season and lasted the full 90 minutes as he continues his recovery from injury, as did Phil Foden, who sat out the end of Euro 2020 after a collision during England training.
Guardiola took aim at Chelsea defender Antonio Rudiger for the Belgian’s condition, despite playing four games for Belgium at Euro 2020, and said he would need longer than his midfield colleague to get back to full fitness.
“Phil has been injured for two months but Phil doesn’t need many games to get his rhythm,” Guardiola said. “He lives 24 hours a day to play football and his physicality is sharp.
“Kevin, no, he needs a proper pre-season, he has been injured since the Champions League final with what (Anthony) Rudiger did, then the European Championships and the national team.
“He needs rhythm, but that is why it is so good he got 90 minutes, knowing it is still not perfect but step-by-step. Now is the moment to know Kevin is starting to be ready.”