Pep Guardiola pinpoints Riyad Mahrez mindset change behind brilliant Man City form
Riyad Mahrez’s reaction to being dropped this week at Chelsea in the Premier League earned him a start in the FA Cup against the same opponents, Pep Guardiola has said.
Mahrez struggled for regular starts at the beginning of the season, and didn’t score his first goal until October. Since then, however, he has reclaimed his right-wing spot and has eight goals in 12 Manchester City appearances, with two assists – including two strikes against Chelsea in the FA Cup.
That takes his tally to four goals in three appearances against Chelsea this season, and Guardiola indicated that a change in attitude midway through the season has been the key reason for Mahrez’s improved form.
“Maybe Riyad had a problem coming back from the summertime, not the World Cup,” Guardiola said.
“The quality from Riyad is everything. He loves to play football, helped us to play the game, he played really good, and at 0-0 that can happen. He played an outstanding game playing wider. Good game.
“He never lost the love [for football]. He loves to play football. But if Riyad is sitting here I would say to him, the way Riyad is training and playing is right now, even when we were in Abu Dhabi when we trained for a few days. It was absolutely not the same. I was completely fair.
“Riyad is a fantastic player, I know how important he is. But I want the Riyad, last game didn’t play from the beginning in Stamford Bridge and the impact he had is incredible. He is the same person who at Aston Villa, didn’t come on and we draw. So then it depends on them.
“When they play in this way and they complain, I can say ‘yeah, you are right, you deserve to play’. But before he cannot play because he is not playing in the level he is playing now. Sometimes I had to let them see in their own mirror who they are.
“In a long career there are many ups and downs. It is not just about the quality, but there is more in football and now he is playing really since we came back from the World Cup.”