Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola was in little mood for expansive reflections on his side’s goalless draw at Huddersfield on Saturday, though he did have praise for returning goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.
City will host the Championship club in a fifth round replay in around 10 days’ time following a scrappy game at the John Smith’s Stadium in which both managers made significant changes to their starting XIs.
Guardiola said before the match that he would use his sense of smell, among other things, to decide whether to recall Claudio Bravo to his line-up or stick with Willy Caballero, who started games in the third and fourth round but has made the No.1 spot his own in recent weeks.
It was Bravo who got the nod on Saturday, a further suggestion he is now Guardiola’s second choice keeper, and the Chilean looked markedly more assured than on several of his most recent league performances.
The former Barcelona man made some important saves in the first half and remained calm in possession, despite a hail of criticism following his form at the turn of the year.
Guardiola, though pleased to still be in the competition pending a replay, was not at his most engaging after the match, but was happy enough with his keeper’s showing.
“He was brilliant the first save," the Catalan said. "He was amazing taking the decision with the pass.”
City’s plans for a mid-season trip to Abu Dhabi have not been affected by Saturday’s draw, either.
The club had always factored in the possibility of a replay in their planning, and Guardiola says they will be back in plenty of time before they host Huddersfield at the Etihad Stadium.
“We are coming back on Saturday [February 25]. We are going to be two or three days there to see our chairman. At midday we will be in Manchester. Now the focus is on the Champions League game.”
Normal pic.twitter.com/khzPjdby4V— Sam Lee (@Sammy_Goal) February 18, 2017
Guardiola opened his press conference, held in the cramped press room at the John Smith's Stadium, by insisting he was not surprised by how the game panned out.
"No, nothing, I knew the game that we played," he said. "The first half we had our chances, the goalkeeper was brilliant. The second half maybe we played a bit better but we didn’t create many chances. So many teams in the Premier League are out and we have another chance next Tuesday at home, we will try and quality.
"A big compliment to the team, I know how difficult it is, the pitch, they are so aggressive, they are so dynamic. We will play the replay for the first time in my life and we will try and qualify."