Manchester City face newly-promoted Sheffield United on Sunday, but manager Pep Guardiola will miss the trip as he recovers from back surgery.
Assistant boss Juanma Lillo will take charge for the next two games. He spoke to the media today to preview this weekend’s fixture.
Despite Guardiola’s absence from the touchline, Lillo confirmed that the manager is still in constant contact with the squad.
“Of course! Pep is always there,” he said. “The contact is continuous – telephone, video call, everything,” Lillo said.
“He is telling us the surgery has been successful, his recovery has to take the necessary time. He feels fine. I’m happy to see him going correctly.”
Lillo was then asked what makes Man City such a special team. They have won their two opening matches this season and are big favourites to beat Sheff Utd at Bramall Lane.
“A good team without good players is impossible to make. The moment you have good players and a really good coach, really well managed.
“The way we train has a lot to do the way we play. The stability that the club has and we can feel it. Feel that stability and the mixture does that.
“Obviously we continue doing things right, might not always go our way but we continue to do things the right way. I hope we continue to do great results.”
Lillo admitted, however, that Guardiola has been a big miss in training over the last few days.
“If Pep is here it’s best for everyone. He directs sessions, there’s [more] focus. The other coaches are here though, plenty of staff have been here for a while.”
Man City confirmed the signing of Rennes winger Jeremy Doku for £55.4m on Thursday. Lillo gave his thoughts on what he brings to the team: “That is the good thing this team has, the idea is to bring players who are better not modify.
“The team will grow and he will improve us. The team is at a good level. He’s a great player, you’ve seen him. He has specific qualities. He can help.”
It is unclear whether Doku will be available against Sheff United, but is ‘doing well’ in training.
“I said that because he’s been the last one to arrive. He gathers all the focus, he’s been playing in the French league so he’s fine. He’s doing well,” Lillo added.
One player who Lillo expects to be involved in the game on Saturday, though, is Bernardo Silva. He said: “Perhaps it’s a question for the doctor but he’s trained fully normal. I don’t think he’s ill and he’s good to go.”
Lillo was also asked whether he or Guardiola would be doing the team-talk before the game against the Blades.
“Pep prefers face to face, so I will deal with it,” he said.
“Obviously the form and content is his work. We won’t do a video conference because he doesn’t want it. He wants face to face and is within the messages that are relayed.”
When asked whether he knew already what he was going to say to the Man City players, he responded: “There is still a few training sessions and sometimes it’s about the feeling you have.
“With regards to the rival, the team. Pep has been doing his work and we will talk about it. Whatever he will say, whatever the input that’s what will happen.”
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