Kevin De Bruyne put his World Cup woes behind him as he excelled in Man City’s win over Liverpool with Pep Guardiola wanting the Belgian to maintain his attitude
Pep Guardiola hailed “grumpy” Kevin De Bruyne for inspiring Manchester City to knock out holders Liverpool.
De Bruyne took his World Cup frustration with Belgium out on Jurgen Klopp’s side – with City boss Guardiola claiming the midfielder needs to be angry to produce his best.
“Kevin was outstanding,” said Guardiola. “He just needs to find the right fire inside of himself, just to be a little bit grumpy or upset, to play his best. When this happens, what a player, assisting or scoring goals. How many years has he been here? Seven or eight years? He’s an absolute legend and I always push him to find that fire
“I know it’s not easy to find this consistency every three days, but today he had something inside that said ‘I’m going to do it’. He will be remembered forever as one of the greatest players of this club.”
De Bruyne did not get on the scoresheet, but provided two assists as City came out on top in a pulsating encounter at the Etihad Stadium.
Goals from Erling Haaland, Riyad Mahrez and Nathan Ake sealed the win, with City handed a quarter-final trip to League One Charlton. Liverpool were unable to add to Fabio Carvalho and Mo Salah’s goals to force penalties.
Boss Klopp said: “It was a spectacular game, with a high intensity, so there’s a lot to take from it. The result, obviously not, but we played probably the best team in the world, it’s unbelievable what they do.
“Against City, you should always have a perfectly-oiled machine available, because in these games you need 100 percent and conviction.”
Guardiola revealed England midfielder Kalvin Phillips was not included in City’s matchday squad because he was not in the right shape to play.
Phillips spent the past six weeks away with England at the World Cup, but Guardiola and his fitness staff did not deem him fit enough to play.
“He’s not fit,” said Guardiola. “He’s not arrived in the best condition to train.”