Lack of depth hit Manchester City in FA Cup semi-final defeat by Liverpool (yes, really!): If Pep Guardiola’s side want to win the treble or quadruple in the future then they need a bigger squad to match Jurgen Klopp’s side
- Manchester City’s semi-final defeat to Liverpool exposed their lack of depth
- Pep Guardiola needs a bigger squad if City are to win the treble in the future
- Riyad Mahrez was the only substitute City used in the clash at Wembley
Only one regular was missing from the Manchester City squad on Saturday — Kyle Walker, wearing a protective boot in the stands.
Yet here were the walking wounded. Injured Kevin De Bruyne sat on the bench but was never destined to play. Ilkay Gundogan’s knee problem meant his place among the substitutes was ceremonial, too.
When Pep Guardiola said City were in ‘big trouble’ last week, he was not kidding. Riyad Mahrez was his only fit senior attacking player on the bench and was his solitary change at Wembley. The Algerian almost turned a lost cause of a semi-final on its head.
The lack of depth in Pep Guardiola’s squad was evident in Manchester City’s loss to Liverpool
If City really want to win the lot in a single season, as Liverpool might this time, they need a bigger squad. No laughing at the back — check the numbers.
The manager chooses to have a smaller pool, with 17 established outfield players and a smattering of academy products.
They allowed Ferran Torres to join Barcelona mid-season, leaving them short.
Benjamin Mendy, standing trial for alleged multiple rapes in the summer, has been suspended all season.
Riyad Mahrez made an impact off the bench but City didn’t have many other options
City went to Wembley shattered after their midweek exertions in Madrid and were blown away, three down at half-time after picking a back four that had never played together before.
There is a pattern: they were sluggish in last year’s semi-final defeat by Chelsea after ringing the changes too. These massive FA Cup ties normally come after Champions League games and it seems City cannot cope with their intensity.
‘It’s similar to last year,’ said Guardiola. ‘We came from Dortmund — just three days (rest). The last three semi-finals of the FA Cup we played here, against Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool, in the first half we were not there.
‘I feel bad when during the season I don’t play the (secondary) players. When I make a selection I think about the players I don’t allow to play. When I have the chance to do it I will.’
Guardiola refused to criticise Zack Steffen but you wonder if he is good enough to deputise
Guardiola refused to criticise No 2 goalkeeper Zack Steffen after a horror show but you do wonder whether the American is good enough to deputise for Ederson. But more than that, this semi-final was lost during the winter months, when key players had to continue on the hamster wheel without a break. If you want to beat Liverpool, you have to play your best team and Guardiola could not given how his squad has been stretched. And that is largely through design.
Jurgen Klopp named a bumper squad and still left out Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi; City had just one man on the bench they were going to bring on.
That discrepancy is something City must address if they are serious about winning a treble — or even a quadruple.