Coming into the new Premier League season, Manchester City’s title defence did not start as planned after losing to Tottenham Hotspur in the opening weekend. But the defending champions responded in style, thrashing Norwich City 5-0 in their second game on Saturday. It was mainly possible thanks to forward Gabriel Jesus, who was involved in three of the goals against Norwich. He might not have got on the score sheet but was instrumental in his team’s dominant attacking display. His contribution to the team’s attack on Saturday did not go unnoticed. Manager Pep Guardiola was pleased with many aspects of the victory over the Canaries, but it was Jesus’ display that particularly caught his attention.
“He’s a player who likes to be wider than central position,” Pep said after the match. “One of the reasons why I’m a manager is when you can work with people and humans like Gabriel. He never complains, he plays five minutes, he plays the best five minutes he can do. He’s happy on left, right or centre and today the connection with Kyle was exceptional. I’m pleased with his performance; he was involved in three of our goals and is an incredibly important player for us.
“He made an exceptional performance today, and I repeat, if he plays three minutes he plays the best three minutes for the club and everyone. The more you have in this position the better we are. When someone plays like this they deserve to play. He’s so young, big congratulations because he deserves in life the best. He’s so generous and as I say, I’m incredibly satisfied for him.”
Pep Guardiola believes that he can help Jack Grealish score more goals frequently, while citing Raheem Sterling as a similar example. “If he gets the mentality to score goals like Raheem, yeah (he can score more),” he said.
“When Raheem was here when I first arrived he didn’t have goals in his mind and we immediately changed his arrival. Today he scored because he arrives in the centre, he’s a machine there. He changed his mind and decided he was going to score. Jack has this mentality to score goals and win games as well. But if he has the Raheem mentality then he can do it, too.”
Guardiola believes City’s response to last weekend’s opening day defeat to Tottenham was as good as he could have hoped. “This result was the consequence of how many good things we have done,” said Pep. “We are still not at the top – there are still many things to do. We trained, we were refreshed, happy for these first points…. hopefully they will not be the last!”
Gabriel Jesus praised the fans for producing a memorable performance on Saturday at the Etihad stadium. “I couldn’t remember the last game with our fans because it’s been so long!” he admitted. “They came, they pushed all the time – they sang and give everything for us – so we have to play for them as well.”
One of the last to join the City squad for pre-season training, following his Copa America exploits, Jesus asserted that he’s raring to go. “I’m getting back my fitness,” he added. “I think I was the last one to come back after holidays – I needed some rest.
“After, I had to train hard like always. I didn’t lose too much power – I’m a little bit lucky because I didn’t lose too much so I can come back and train with the guys. Now I’m fit.”