Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has suggested he left Jack Grealish and Phil Foden on the bench against Newcastle due to recent “behaviour” off the pitch.
Grealish, Foden and John Stones all dropped to the bench for Sunday’s 4-0 win at St James’ Park, with Joao Cancelo, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling replacing them in the starting line-up.
While Stones was brought on as a second-half substitute, Foden and Grealish were left as unused substitutes with Fernandinho and youngster Cole Palmer coming on instead.
Guardiola has now suggested that his decision to not play the two England internationals was due to off-field behaviour.
When asked to explain his team selection, Guardiola told BBC Radio 5 Live: “Not rotation, no.
“I decided for this team because they deserved to play today, these guys and not the other ones.
“At Christmas time I pay a lot of attention to behaviour on and off the pitch. And when off the pitch is not proper they are not going to play.
“So we have to be focused all the time because of distractions at Christmas time and everything that happens – you have to still be focused.”
The decision to alter his starting line-up against Newcastle paid off for Guardiola as City cruised to a comfortable win thanks to goals from Ruben Dias, Cancelo, Riyad Mahrez and Sterling.
City are now three points clear of closest rivals Liverpool at the top of the Premier League after the Reds were held to a 2-2 draw by Tottenham.
City’s victory, their 34th in the league in 2021, is a new record for the most top-flight wins by a team in a calendar year.
“Records show the consistency we have as a team, it is not winning titles or finals, but it is winning and winning,” Guardiola said after the match.
“Records are there to be broken and we are happy to have them.
“I prefer to win titles, but when you break a record from a long time ago, in a calendar year, the most victories, you are consistent.
“You win games and this is the most precious value this team has.”
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