Pep Guardiola was proud of Manchester City’s effort in a Community Shield victory that left Maurizio Sarri under no illusion about the task ahead of him at Chelsea.
The season curtain-raiser went the way of last season’s Premier League champions, with Sergio Aguero striking either side of half-time in a win far more comfortable than the 2-0 scoreline suggests.
Guardiola plumped for a surprisingly strong side in the Sunday sun at Wembley, where Aguero was among
six of City’s World Cup stars in the starting line-up.
What they lacked in sharpness they more than made up for in quality against a Chelsea side struggling for coherence under new boss Sarri.
“Kyle Walker trained just two training sessions,” Guardiola said. “It’s complicated for all of them but they are such competitive guys.
“They are my pride. Hats off (to them) because it is not easy to play with such a short time (to prepare).
“We worked just four or five days thinking about the final. We prepared for the final.
“We knew a little bit from Napoli last season what Maurizio could do. We saw the games against Perth, Inter and Arsenal and we tried to figure out what we can do with and without the ball.
“We would like to be more intense in the pressing, but it was impossible because the players were absolutely exhausted. In the second half they felt a little bit comfortable.
“Of course, winning 2-0, it was easier. In general, we made a good, good performance.
“I didn’t expect that level in that period after a short, short training session, like from Fernandinho, Sergio – most of them.
“I appreciate – thank you so much – the players who came back earlier, like Bernardo (Silva), like Vinny (Kompany).
“Bernardo Silva played an incredible performance today. I am so satisfied.
“It’s a minor title, everybody is going for the Premier League, the FA Cup or the Champions League. But to play for this title you have to win the Premier League or the FA up so to play this competition is not easy.
“Once we are there we just try to be serious, to play strong in the head. We did it and that is why we are satisfied.
“We are still far away from the physical condition we want to play. In most cases still we are far, far away.
“The players are in bad, bad condition and hopefully this week we have seven days and the next week seven days more where we can increase our level.”
Guardiola heaped praise on man-of-the-match Aguero after his match-winning brace and Silva
for a “masterpiece” of a performance that ensures he is the first name on the team sheet against Arsenal.
While City tweak ahead of their Premier League opener, Sarri has major work to do.
Just three weeks into the job, the Italian is left facing an uphill battle to prepare and shape his squad for Saturday’s match against Huddersfield and beyond.
“In this moment, there is a little difference – maybe not little – between us and City,” Sarri said.
“About the performance, I think in the first half it was not too bad.
“In the second half there was a big difference from the physical point of view, I think, so we have to work.
“Our pre-season until now has been a bit crazy I think and so we have to work.”
Sarri has still not seen six of his players, compounding issues in getting across his philosophy.
“We have the idea to press,” the Italian added. “Sometimes we press in the right way but sometimes not.
“We have the idea to be in control of the match but today we were not in control of the match.
“So, I think it’s a long way we have to work. It’s not very easy.
“In the next week we have a friendly match again (against Lyon) and I prefer in this moment to stay on the pitch with the players only for training.”
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