Pep Guardiola insists John Stones hasn't fallen down the pecking order at Manchester City, despite dropping him from the matchday squad to face Tottenham.
Guardiola said Stones had no injury problem keeping him out of the match, but he preferred to include Eric Garcia instead, with the teenager on the bench for the 2-0 defeat, with Fernandinho and Nicolas Otamendi starting the game.
Guardiola insisted Stones hadn't now fallen below Garcia in City's defensive options, but the decision not to include him in this squad will raise further questions over his long-term future at the club.
“No injury, I decided to bring Eric, Eric played so good when he played so I bring him," the City boss said.
Asked if Garcia was now ahead of Stones in his thoughts, Guardiola said: “No, I move the team and the squad and try to keep everybody involved.”
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Why Pep Guardiola made Premier League dominance comment about Liverpool FC
His reaction has led to accusations that he was joining the ranks of the conspiracy theorists who claim that the football authorities have got it in for the Blues.
There is a body of City fans who DO go too far, and see every VAR cock-up, every Uefa action, every fixture foul-up, as a deliberate and determined attempt to stop their club at all costs.
They are wrong, and some of the claims are outlandish, to say the least.
Fernandinho explains how Man City will bounce back after Tottenham defeat
The title was already out of City’s grasp, but the 2-0 reverse at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium left them 22 points behind Liverpool.
City were made to pay for a wasteful first half where they created plenty of clear chances - including a penalty that was missed by Ilkay Gundogan - but couldn’t get the opening goal. After Aleks Zinchenko was sent off in the second half, unanswered goals from Spurs duo Steven Bergwijn and Heung-Min Son condemned City to their sixth defeat of the season - as many as they have managed in the whole of the previous two campaigns.
After the 1-0 defeat to Manchester United in the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg last week, City have now failed to score in two successive games for the first time under Pep Guardiola, but the squad will stick together this week according to Fernandinho.
Man City star Rodri analyses what went wrong at Tottenham
Rodri says that football is not being “fair” to Manchester City right now.
The Blues have lost consecutive games against Manchester United and Tottenham despite racking up 32 goal attempts and allowing nine.
And Spain international Rodri says that, even for the team which was the first in Europe’s top five leagues to hit the 100-goal mark, there are times when the ball will not go into the net.
“It’s a bit frustrating for us. We do everything we can, we work so hard, we prepare the matches incredibly well, we put on the pitch what we trained during the week,” he said, after the 2-0 reverse at Spurs.
“We create chances, we don’t concede anything, we have 18 shots, we miss one penalty, we hit the post, the crossbar, etc.”
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