Assistant coach Juanma Lillo confessed that he did not find it enjoyable to stand in for Pep Guardiola following Manchester City’s hard-fought 2-1 victory at Sheffield United.
Guardiola observed his team extend their flawless start to the Premier League season and claim the top spot from Barcelona, where he is currently recovering from back surgery.
While City displayed dominance throughout the match at a capacity-filled Bramall Lane, they came close to relinquishing two points when Blades substitute Jayden Bogle netted an 85th-minute equalizer.
Bogle nullified Erling Haaland’s header in the second half – the Norwegian striker had missed a penalty before halftime – but Rodri came to City’s rescue by smashing home the winning goal in the 88th minute.
When asked if he enjoyed taking charge in Guardiola’s absence, Lillo said: “Not at all. I much prefer being with Pep. Especially when it’s a question of health, I don’t enjoy this at all. We miss his presence now more than ever.
“I haven’t spoken to him after the match. During the match I spoke to him at some moments, but generally he was speaking to the other members of the technical staff. But he’s been totally present today.”
Juanma Lillo analyzes Man City’s performance against Sheffield
City controlled the ball for the majority of the game and faced few challenges from the Blades, who showcased a determined and organized defensive performance.
In the 37th minute, Haaland directed his penalty onto a post after Blades captain John Egan had committed a handball, but he redeemed himself by heading his team into the lead in the 63rd minute.
“Generally I thought we played really well today,” said Lillo, who confirmed Phil Foden had started on the bench due to an upset stomach. “It was a lot closer to what we wanted.
“From the second half I thought we really found our rhythm and we were able to win the ball back a lot quicker.
“We were able to find the new spaces created from winning the ball back quicker and we could have scored more before the first goal went in.”