Man City: Gary Neville claims Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones will cost Pep Guardiola title

With Aymeric Laporte out injured long-term, City are searching for the right combination

Jack Rathborn
Tuesday 17 September 2019 07:56 BST
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Manchester City centre-backs Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones will cost them the title, according to Gary Neville.

After struggling in the 3-2 loss to Norwich at the weekend, City find themselves five points behind Liverpool.

And with Aymeric Laporte out injured, Pep Guardiola may consider Fernandinho moving forward at the back.

But the current combination could prove costly, Neville claims, as City prepare to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday.

“Guardiola gave up on this partnership 18 months ago when Laporte came to the club,” Neville said on Monday Night Football on Sky Sports. ”Otamendi always gets caught out as a centre-back and quickens up the opposition in attack. He’s so not a Pep Guardiola type centre-back, they’re usually composed but he’s rash.

“Sir Alex Ferguson at times during his Manchester United career would see a game too far with players and say, ‘That’s it, you’re done’. Manchester City’s 4-3 defeat at Liverpool in 2018 was the game when Guardiola decided that Stones and Otamendi couldn’t play together.

“Laporte’s injury, Kompany leaving and not replacing him is a big problem for Manchester City. Stones and Otamendi have played 25 games under Guardiola in the Premier League.

“They’ve conceded more goals than any other partnership, conceded more goals per game, the clean sheets are down, the three-plus goals conceded is well up and then there’s the big one, lower win percentage. That will cost Manchester City the Premier League title. If these two play together at their current rate of performance they won’t win the league.”

Stones reacts after conceding vs Norwich
Stones reacts after conceding vs Norwich (Action Images via Reuters)

While Jamie Carragher concurred, insisting Otamendi will never change his rash style of play.

“He (Otamendi) dives in, he has done it all his career,” Carragher added.

“He will never change and that’s why he’s not good enough to play for Manchester City. I have never believed it from day one and nothing I have seen in the last four or five years has changed my mind.”

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