Wayne Rooney gained support from an unexpected source when Pep Guardiola put a dent in his own image of saintly perfection by admitting he too used to drink while away on international duty.
“I was lucky there were no pictures,” the Manchester City manager said. “I won’t comment on the private lives of others because I don’t like it when people comment on my private life, but when I was an international I sometimes had a drink. When you drink, you are the one responsible. I don’t think the association has to be responsible. We are people, we are old enough to take responsibility. Everyone is entitled to a private life so we have to respect what other people do.”
City are at Crystal Palace on Saturday against opponents desperate to halt a five match losing run, though Guardiola will base his assessment on their playing quality not their position in the league table.
“When I look at a team I never think about where they are in the table, I just try to analyse what they do,” he explained. “I think we will get a tough game. Palace have some good players and a very experienced coach. They will play a lot through Christian Benteke but they are also quick on the break. They have fast wingers in [Andros] Townsend and [Wilfried] Zaha, good one against one. [Yohan] Cabaye is an exceptional player too. The toughest games we will play are now away. We know the situation. If we want to stay with the big teams in the Premier League we have to win. Every game is different, every opponent is different, but we have to work out a way to adapt our game.”
After Christmas City will get a further attacking option when Gabriel Jesus arrives from Brazil, most likely as a title-winner with Palmeiras at the age of 19.
“We cannot forget he is 19 years old,” Guardiola warned. “We are very happy he is coming to join us. We are going to try and help him settle down in Manchester and in England as quick as possible because at that age it is not easy. We have here two of the nicest players I have met in my life in Fernando and Fernandinho so they are going to help. Of course, the club, the coaching staff are going to help him. He is an exciting player and one guy more to help us achieve our targets.”