Guardiola is resting up in Barcelona after back surgery that has caused him to miss the last two Premier League games, with assistant Juanma Lillo taking charge. His absence has not halted the progress of the team, who have 12 points from 12 to top the table in the early stage of the season.
Lillo, who returned to the club this summer after a year as a head coach in Qatar, had made it clear that he was not enjoying stepping up to be the stand-in manager and confirmed that Guardiola would continue to play an instrumental role in the coaching of the team. “Pep is always there,” he said.
Lillo was in regular contact with the coach through the week to make sure they were prepared to his liking. City&aposs coaching staff had a pair of headphones for the matches to allow Guardiola, watching remotely, to communicate his ideas to them and pass on to the players.
And while the manager could have left the post-match message to Lillo inside the dressing room as he had the pre-match, the Catalan instead Facetimed the squad to let them know what he thought. In true Guardiola style, there was a request for all of the players to avoid injury in the international break as well as praise for the performance against Fulham.
City will hope that their injury problems ease in the coming weeks after the transfer window confirmed another small squad for the season. While the manager does not like a big group of players, it is a gamble not to increase the size of the squad when the Club World Cup will only add to the commitments and workload of everyone this season.
Jack Grealish joined John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne on the sidelines for the Fulham game after suffering a small thigh injury that is expected to rule him out of the upcoming England matches. However, there is hope that Grealish and Stones – as well as Guardiola – should be back soon after the international break to improve the manager&aposs selection plans.
Those injury issues have not prevented a perfect start in the Premier League though, and Guardiola&aposs address to his players after the Fulham game backs up Lillo&aposs point about how involved he is even when he isn&apost physically there. The manager&aposs desire and motivation remains critical to City&aposs chances of success, and is also being used by the players to keep them motivated for more victories.