Pep Guardiola has demanded respect for Claudio Bravo’s record at Manchester City before the goalkeeper replaces the injured Ederson at Liverpool on Sunday.
Ederson is ruled out by the muscular problem he sustained against Atalanta in midweek. Bravo lost his status as the No 1 to Ederson after a disastrous 2016-17 season prompted Guardiola to buy the Brazilian.
Bravo has not made a Premier League start since May 2018 at Southampton, an effectively dead game as City were already champions. Yet Guardiola, reminded of how he removed Bravo for Ederson said: “Why should I doubt any player in my team? Why do you ask these questions? You have to respect this guy – he has won trophies and the Copa América.
“Bravo can do it, of course. We won the Carabao Cup with him, he’s an exceptional keeper, played a lot of games with his national team.”
Although Bravo was in the side who beat Arsenal in the 2018 Carabao Cup final, he was dropped for Ederson for last season’s triumph over Chelsea.
Guardiola, though, has no reservations about him. “Why would I have doubts because a player does not play regularly?” he said. “I’d not want to be a player who was doubted by his manager. I’ve seen him in training and I know how fired up he is and how good he is. We are not going to lose because of Claudio.”
Bravo came on at half-time against Atalanta but was sent off on 81 minutes. “The red card was because we lost the ball in a dangerous position,” Guardiola said. “In the first season when he was a little bit struggling in the Premier League it was because he comes here and the team was not at top level. The problem was not Claudio. It is easy to point that he is the problem.
“It’s a team game and sometimes you make a mistake; sometimes you make a good save and sometimes not. But why should I not have any confidence with one player in my team? He wouldn’t be here otherwise.”
City have been accused of tactical fouling by Jürgen Klopp, along with Ole Gunnar Solskjær, José Mourinho and Manuel Pellegrini, but Guardiola shrugged off those views. “Ask the managers [or ask] my players as what I tell them when I prepare a game,” he said. “So, no comment. I know exactly what I said to my players in the last 11 years about what we have to do.”
If City lose to Liverpool the champions will be nine points behind but Guardiola said: “What happens if we win? I think in November [the title] never ends. I know people will say if we lose it’s over but there will be a lot of games to play and I want to fight until the end. They’re not going to lose many but the season is long and a lot of situations can happen.”
City have voiced concerns to Liverpool regarding a possible repeat of the attack on the team coach on the way to Anfield for the Champions League quarter-final first-leg game in April 2018. Guardiola claimed Merseyside police knew then what could happen yet failed to act.
“Hopefully it will not happen again,” he said. “The police knew it and didn’t do anything. I don’t know what they are going to do.
“Hopefully it will be an incredible game for the Premier League and all around the world. Hopefully it will not happen the same that happened two seasons ago when we arrive at Anfield.
“I didn’t like the bus incident but inside the stadium when the Liverpool fans support, it’s perfect, lovely – that’s why we’re involved in the sport. The stadium, the history speaks for itself.”