As Pep Guardiola embarks upon his first crisis at Manchester City, the cracks are starting to show in his previously flawless reign.
City may well resort to spending big again in the January transfer window after defeats to Barcelona and Tottenham and draws with Everton and Celtic in their last four games.
With their defence under fire, it’s possible Guardiola will also be shifting some of the dead wood in the squad, but the Sky Blues boss insists he won’t be offloading any of his star men.
Had City had Sergio Aguero and Vincent Kompany on the pitch against Barca, the 4-0 thrashing might have been a very different story, particularly as the visitors actually started quite brightly and were able to hold Lionel Messi and co. off in the early stages.
Kompany, of course, is out injured as usual, but Aguero’s absence did lead to suggestions of a rift with Guardiola.
“I think I took decisions with my plans and my plans for Vincent and Sergio Aguero are that they have a future at Manchester City,” Guardiola was forced to tell the assembled press after the reports surfaced.
“Vincent Kompany was not fit, was not perfectly fit. That’s why we took a decision. Normally Vincent Kompany is on the bench. He was not fit.
“Respect to Sergio Aguero – it was a decision, a tactical decision. I wanted one more midfield player in the middle with Kevin De Bruyne.
“I spoke with Sergio about that, he was so understanding. He helped us a lot from the bench in the last minutes.
It seems crazy to think that City would entertain the notion of allowing Aguero to leave, considering the prolific form the striker has maintained throughout his career at the Etihad.
Yet, it seems any such rumours were quite wide of the mark, as Guardiola elaborated.
“I am sorry, when Sergio decides to leave Manchester City, it will be his decision,” he added.
“I appreciate like a football player and like a man what he did here.
“Next time before you give this opinion you can call me before you decide he’s not in my plans, you can call me before you write he’s not in my plans.”