Guardiola explains decision not to make any substitutions in Man City’s win over Fulham

The Spanish coach has been pushing for the Premier League to allow for more rotation but snubbed the chance to make any changes

Pep Guardiola stood by his decision not to utilise any substitutes as Manchester City ran out 2-0 winners at home to Fulham on Saturday.

Kevin De Bruyne scored one and set up another as City cruised to a comfortable victory, taking them to within three points of Premier League co-leaders Tottenham and Liverpool ahead of Sunday’s action.

Despite all but wrapping up the points by half-time, though, Guardiola elected to leave all seven substitutes on the bench.

The City boss and Liverpool counterpart Jurgen Klopp have been the two most vocal managers in pressing for the Premier League to allow five changes in a game amid a congested schedule.

Premier League clubs voted ahead of the season to reduce the number of allotted substitutions back to three, with a maximum of five in-game alterations having been allowed when the top flight resumed in June following a three-month break due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Klopp reiterated his stance on Friday, insisting he will “not stop fighting” despite Premier League shareholders refusing to vote again on the issue in a meeting the previous day.

But Guardiola perhaps did little to help the pair’s cause against Fulham as he did not call on a single substitute for the first time in 416 games as a coach in Europe’s ‘top five’ leagues, having always used at least one change while in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

City had last kept the same XI on the pitch for the entirety of a Premier League match in a 2-2 draw against Charlton Athletic in April 2005.

However, Guardiola offered an explanation, insisting that he was merely managing his squad ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Marseille and the subsequent Manchester derby on Saturday.

“Yes, I wanted the guys to play 90 minutes and most of them are not going to play Wednesday and the guys who didn’t play today will play Wednesday,” he told reporters.

“I decide to play 90 minutes with these guys and a fresh 90 minutes for the rest of the players. After that we will see the best selection for the next games.

“In the Champions League, we have done the job but we have prestige to play for; it’s a serious game and we will respect the competition. Marseille and Olympiakos are still playing for Europa League [qualification].

“After this game we will see about United and how we want to play.”

Despite leaving his captain on, Guardiola did concede that De Bruyne, who had six attempts and created two chances, including a superb assist for Raheem Sterling’s early opener, struggled in the closing stages.

“For the last 25 minutes, Kevin did feel a little bit tired,” Guardiola added.

City have made 19 changes in total across their 10 league games this term, with only Aston Villa and Burnley (both 18) having made fewer.

Liverpool are 10th in the Premier League for substitutions on 28 from an available 30, three shy of Everton, who top the rankings with Carlo Ancelotti having made 31 of a possible 33.

Burnley are the only other team to have gone through a game without making a change, while City have been involved in two league matches in which only three substitutions were made in total: against Fulham and Liverpool.

Only in Burnley’s defeat to Southampton in September have fewer than three changes been made (two – both for Saints).

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