Pep Guardiola reiterates protection plea after challenges on his Manchester City players
By Michael Hincks
Last Updated: 31/01/18 11:43pm
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola reiterated his point on players needing protection after a couple of challenges from West Brom players on Wednesday night.
A 3-0 victory over West Brom helped City move 15 points clear at the Premier League's summit, thanks to goals from Fernandinho, Kevin De Bruyne and Sergio Aguero.
But just three days after losing Leroy Sane to injury, City will count themselves lucky De Bruyne and Brahim Diaz came out unscathed following poor tackles from James McClean and Matt Phillips.
Both Baggies players saw yellows for their challenges, with Phillips' in particular looking dangerously high, leading Guardiola to protest with fourth official Kevin Friend.
"I have an opinion. The referees have another one. So they are the bosses, they have to take a decision. I said what I said in terms of the players' protection. I can say it every day, and today we were lucky," Guardiola told Sky Sports.
"It was good. We can talk and I appreciate Kevin because he came and tried to explain to me his point of view.
"He does not say, 'Go out', you know? That's why I appreciate it. I did not agree, he knows that, but it's okay, they decide. It is what it is, no problem."
City put in a dominant display to brush aside basement club West Brom, having taken the lead in the first half when Fernandinho latched onto De Bruyne's perfect through ball.
De Bruyne went on to double City's lead after the break before Aguero's 17th goal of the season but the game beyond doubt late on.
Guardiola labelled City's performance "almost perfect" while singling out club-record signing Aymeric Laporte, who was making his debut in central defence alongside Nicolas Otamendi.
"The way we played was outstanding. Of course, we need the points, but we were almost perfect in many senses," Guardiola added.
"[Laporte's debut] was top. His performance was amazing. In the short, in the long, in the air, in the high line. 23 years old, we're so happy. Thank you so much to the club, because they made an effort to bring him in.
"This is a fantastic club. The club provide me, what we think together, we try it, so that's why it's fantastic."