The Belgian’s dazzling recent form has some comparing him to very best in world football
Pep Guardiola would not put Kevin de Bruyne in the same class as Lionel Messi – in his mind there is nobody who comes close. But he would sit the Manchester City midfielder ‘at the same table’ as the Argentinian.
De Bruyne’s performance in the 4-0 rout of Bournemouth was one of the great displays the Etihad Stadium has seen in its short history. Having scored the opener, De Bruyne created Manchester City’s three other goals, much to the delight of his manager.
“Every time he passes, he makes the right decision, we are extremely lucky to have him and I hope he can continue to play his amazing football,” said Guardiola. “He is one of the best players I have coached. You talk about Messi but he sits alone at the table – nobody comes close to him – but Kevin has a place at that table.
“He is a guy I don’t know too much about. He likes to be at home with his beautiful wife and his baby. He loves to train and he is very relaxed. He is a fabulous footballer.”
Guardiola did not contest the dismissal of Manuel Nolito, sent off for pushing his head into the face of the Bournemouth defender, Adam Smith, although the fact that City had comfortably won the game when the incident occurred would have angered him.
He had no truck with the suggestion that, having won their first eight games in all competitions, Manchester City risked becoming infected by complacency. Thus far, he argued, his team had “achieved absolutely nothing”.
Guardiola liked what he saw against Bournemouth (Getty)
He added: “Complacency is not going to happen. I heard that the Premier League is the toughest in the world and that is an argument I am going to accept. This performance was better than the one against Sunderland on the opening day but that is all. We are only in September and we have done absolutely nothing.”
His opposite number, Eddie Howe, said he took little comfort from Guardiola’s suggestion that Bournemouth were the best side Manchester City had faced this season because they had not resorted to the long ball.
“Our plan was not to sit so deep but we became trapped with nowhere to go,” he said. “I hoped we could stay in the game but the second really hurt because we conceded from our own free kick. I was actually disappointed with our performance because I thought we could do better. I leave here frustrated.”
Howe conceded that Jack Wilshere’s first league start since his loan move from Arsenal had not been the beginning the England midfielder would have hoped for. “It was difficult for Jack because we wanted to see him in their final third and he wasn’t there because we didn’t give him the opportunity.”