Pep Guardiola outlines Man City plan for five academy players

Pep Guardiola has warned his bright young Manchester City things they have the word at their feet — if they focus on football and ignore the distractions of fame and glamour.

Liam Delap and James McAtee both enjoyed 15 minutes of action as the Blues saw off Fulham 4-1 in the FA Cup on Saturday, and underlined their potential.

McAtee was awarded a three-year contract extension last week after impressing massively, and he did not look out of place in a bright cameo appearance, while Delap returned from a six-month absence only to be denied a goal by a marginal offside.

Both face tough competition to get into the City team. McAtee is mixing with some of the world’s best midfielders, while City have just signed a striker who is South American Footballer of the Year, Julian Alvarez and are seeking another top goalscorer in the summer.

But Guardiola has backed them — and the other talents pushing through from the academy — to succeed as long as they do not get distracted by the trappings of football glory.

And he said Delap has a head-start in that regard because he can draw on the experience of dad Rory, a solid professional for Derby, Southampton and Stoke, among others.

“I can control on the pitch but today to be a top player you have to be on the pitch and off the pitch,” said the City boss.

“I think with Liam it’s not the case because off the pitch his father works [as a coach] in Stoke City and he has come from the world of football so he knows exactly what he has to do.

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“But today it is not success to have one or half a good season or two seasons, it’s to have 12, 13, 14 seasons being there, being there, off the pitch is just as important as on the pitch but we are not guards here, we cannot control them. It depends on them.”

Delap’s return means that for the first time this season, City have a recognized striker, one that Guardiola described as a “killer” and an old-fashioned English center forward, who knocks around senior defenders in training.

Delap has six months at least before the competition for a central striker role arrives, and Guardiola says the rest is now up to him.

“The plan, he will dictate to me,” said the manager. “The plan depends on his behavior and his performance.

“Now he is a player who is training every day with us. You cannot imagine the improvement from him, Romeo (Lavia), (Luke) Mbete, Macca (McAtee), and of course Cole Palmer is already with us for the last season so with these players, with the intensity we play, if they are open and humble and they are OK I am here to improve and do it then after it depends on them.

“The plan depends on what they do on the pitch and off the pitch. Today there are a lot of distractions off the pitch. It’s just as important as on the pitch.”

Guardiola also made the point that whatever happens, players coming through the City academy get a good grounding, and cited Fulham center back Tosin Adarabioyo, a Manchester lad who came through the ranks with the Blues.

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Liam Delap stepped off the bench in Manchester City's FA Cup win over Fulham.
Liam Delap stepped off the bench in Manchester City’s FA Cup win over Fulham.

“The academy is working for that reason, to develop players and look, for example, at Tosin,” he said.

“Tosin played an exceptional game, but why? Because he was able to play 100 games in the Championship and a few games in the Premier League and every weekend he is playing.

“The problem is that young players we cannot give them 100 games to play. why? Because this team has to win everything, we try to win everything.

“It’s not easy. That’s why they have to be patient. That is why sometimes they have to go on loan and come back but loaned to the right clubs and the right managers where they are able to play and to come back.

“That’s good but look at McAtee today, he played exceptionally, he was moving in the right spots and every touch he made the action was better, we have a few of them.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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