MANHATTAN BEACH, California (Reuters - Former Barcelona and Spain striker David Villa has backed Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola to overcome teething troubles and turn around the fortunes of the Premier League club.
Having enjoyed great success with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, Guardiola was brought in by City to take the club into the European elite but so far the Spaniard is struggling to compete on the domestic front.
City were hammered 4-0 by Everton on Sunday and have slipped to fifth in the Premier League, 10 points adrift of leaders Chelsea.
Villa, who now plays in Major League Soccer with New York City FC, kept faith with the manager under whom he won the Spanish league twice and the 2011 Champions League with Barca.
“He has a difficult period right now but I believe he will change the situation,” Villa told Reuters television in an interview.
“(It) is normal to have a difficult period with the team, but he is great and I think he has a methodology and he has a very good coaching staff to change the situation and the future (at City) will be better for sure,” said the 35-year-old.
“Soccer is difficult in every country and I am so lucky that I was able to play for Guardiola. He is a great coach, for everyone who likes soccer. But in soccer it is difficult to win and he has almost always won. His statistics are amazing,” added Villa.
Guardiola won three Spanish league titles and two Champions Leagues with Barca and won the Bundesliga in all three seasons at Bayern.
Villa, who scored 59 goals for Spain in 97 appearances, credited Guardiola with making him into a better all-round player.
”I was lucky to train under him. When I arrived at Barcelona I had always played as a number nine and when I played with him he changed my position and my mentality and after that I think I was a better player.
“I was able to understand more about different positions) on the field and not only about scoring goals. He was great for my career,” he said.
Villa was voted MLS’s Most Valuable Player in 2016 after scoring 22 goals in 32 games for his New York club.
New York City FC share the same owners as Manchester City, the Abu Dhabi-owned City Football Group who also run Australian club Melbourne City and has a minority holding in Japanese J-League club Yokohama F-Marinos.
Editing by Amlan Chakraborty