Tottenham beat Manchester City 1-0 on Super Sunday thanks to Harry Kane's goal; Gary Neville said on Sky Sports commentary duty City are not as strong as they have been in the past; Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure on the touchline
Monday 6 February 2023 10:32, UK
Gary Neville claims "something isn't right" at Manchester City this season amid their defeat to Tottenham on Super Sunday - and that Pep Guardiola's team are "not as strong" as before.
Spurs ran out 1-0 winners thanks to Harry Kane's first-half goal, as City missed the chance to close the gap on Premier League leaders Arsenal, who lost 1-0 at Everton on Saturday.
Neville cited City's display when they went 2-0 down to Tottenham in the home fixture last month when describing Guardiola's side - and hinted the Spaniard "got it wrong" in north London this weekend.
"I remember when Tottenham went 2-0 up at the Etihad and I said that Pep Guardiola was messing around and tinkering a bit a few weeks ago," Neville said while on Sky Sports co-commentary duty.
"I felt the same today when I saw the teamsheet came through with no Kevin De Bruyne and Ruben Dias and Aymeric Laporte still on the bench.
"You can never write Manchester City off. It's almost embarrassing that sometimes you are sat up here saying Guardiola has got it wrong, particularly when he proves himself so right so many times like he did a few weeks ago.
"But something isn't right at Man City. It just feels a little bit strange at the moment."
The pundit then told the Gary Neville Podcast that he is less confident about City winning the title this season - after predicting Guardiola's side to beat leaders Arsenal to the title in recent weeks.
"Two or three weeks ago, I was asked who I thought would win the league and I said Manchester City. And I've said it a couple of times since," said Neville.
"Arsenal fans have been up in arms about that thinking I'm not giving them respect. But on Saturday when Arsenal lost, and I said this before the game, I'm less sure about City because of what has happened in this past week.
"The Cancelo incident, the leaving out of De Bruyne, Dias and Laporte are still stuck on the bench, Gundogan being on the bench today - it all feels a bit odd.
"He's a genius Pep Guardiola and this is a moment in time - but he isn't beyond criticism. This is a very odd period in terms of what's going on.
"They are not right. That was not a Pep Guardiola performance. There have been times when I've watched his teams lose and think: "that's a Pep Guardiola performance".
"The amount of times they got counter-attacked on today, the amount of times they got broken through, the amount of space they gave up in midfield - that doesn't happen. They were having to charge back to their own goal. That's because they're not right.
It was not a good evening for Erling Haaland, who not only ended the match at Tottenham without a shot on goal - but he also failed to touch the ball in the Spurs penalty area.
It was the first game that Haaland has failed to have a shot in City colours - and only the second City game where he has not touched the ball in the box.
Compare that to Harry Kane, who ended the evening with 10 touches in the City box - including one goal.
The striker, who has 25 goals in 20 Premier League matches this season, is "not getting the service he deserves", according to Neville.
It was City's third away defeat on the spin - the first time the club have managed that feat since 2016 - following losses to Southampton in the Carabao Cup quarter-final and the Manchester Derby defeat at United.
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Carragher believes City are "not themselves" this season - and that the long winning run the club are capable of achieving may not come.
"We're waiting for City to kick in to the City we know so well and this might be the season where they are not themselves, for lots of different reasons," he said. "It's not the Manchester City of old."
And speaking about Haaland's troubles at Tottenham, Carragher believes the Norwegian forward may have chosen the wrong club to improve his game, despite his goal-laden start to life in Manchester.
"I think we've only seen 60 per cent of Erling Haaland," Carragher said. "You think of the goal he got vs West Ham when there was space in behind and he gets in behind. I know that's not there every time due to the way City play.
"He's come from a counter-attack league where it's end-to-end. You saw his blistering pace there - we don't see it here. He might have picked the wrong club to actually get the best out of him.
"We're not seeing everything of Haaland. City have scored the exact number of goals. He's got 25 of them but City overall have scored the same number overall. However, they've conceded more and are easier to counter-attack against now.
"They are a different - and lesser team - with Haaland in the team. That's not his fault. City won't play end-to-end football. That's not Pep Guardiola's way. His players don't have the energy or power to play that way - they build up slowly and push the opposition back to their box and play from there.
"When they lose it they win it back quickly and keep team pinned back. Haaland has scored 25 league goals and lots of them are ones that come into the box and he puts them in, but we're not seeing the full package of the what the player can do because of the team he's joined."