MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola’s delight at his team’s 3-1 derby win over Manchester United did not stop him from delivering a strong message to winger Raheem Sterling over his showboating at the end of the game.
With City 3-1 up in the final minutes, Sterling had the ball deep in the United half on the left wing but, rather than take the ball to the corner flag or keep possession, the England forward produced some fancy-footwork stepovers.
The antics angered United’s Spanish midfielder Juan Mata, who appeared to believe that Sterling was taunting his team and, at the final whistle, Guardiola’s first move was to confront Sterling on the field about the episode.
“He made some movements with the legs, we can avoid it but he is young, he can improve,” said Guardiola when asked about his conversation with the 23-year-old.
Such is unbeaten City’s dominance at the moment that Guardiola felt the need to make a point of being critical about elements of his team’s performance that he thinks ought to be improved.
Despite being clearly superior to their local rivals, the Spaniard was unhappy with his side’s first-half display.
“The first half was not so good, we played like we didn’t want to lose the ball but without the intention to attack,” he said.
“I felt when I watched my players, (they were) a team that feel the pressure. They wanted to do well in the derby. We were stable, we scored one goal, the first 15 minutes was good and after that we didn’t press so well.
“We deserved the victory. The first half we played a little bit with fear but football is a game and we didn’t want to lose the ball. We didn’t want to attack and they defended well.
“In the second half, the game was a bit (more) open so we have to find more space but we made a good performance against a top, top team.”
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Ian Chadband