Nathan Ake remembers Pep Guardiola’s human touch during Man City struggles

Ake signed for City in 2020, but struggled for playing time in his debut season. In his personal life, Ake&aposs father had been suffering with cancer, and sadly passed away in September 2021.

In an interview with the Mirror, Ake says his form improved after laying his father to rest, and thanked Guardiola for his careful personal management throughout those struggles on and off the pitch.

He said: I am grateful to Pep for all he means to me on and off the pitch. When my father passed away two years ago, he was fantastic for me. If I needed things or if I wanted time off, I just had to tell him. He gave me all the time and space I needed. Before my father passed away, things at City were not perfect for me. After he was gone, everything went up in an upward trend.

I got a starting spot at City, we won everything there was to win, and I became a regular in the Dutch national team. Off the pitch things went well too. I got married and we had a great daughter. I think my dad had something to do with all of it. In my first season at City, Pep was great for me. I didn&apost perform as I should have. I was not quite myself.”

Ake believes that Guardiola&aposs management of out-of-form players like himself sets him apart from others he has played under, with the boss&aposs messages allowing him to fight back to earn his place and go on to play a key role in last season&aposs treble.

Guardiola could also have said this is not really my player but he didnt,” Ake recalled. “He came to me and said keep working hard, next year is a new season. He kept believing in me and always told me that I would become important for him. That trust was really fabulous – and last season everything fell into place.