Published On: Sat, Jul 21st, 2018

Man City’s Pep Guardiola has an awkward night against Borussia Dortmund

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Pep Guardiola has few questions to answer as a football manager, but even he would have had cause for discomfort as his Manchester City side kicked off their pre-season against Borussia Dortmund

New signing Riyad Mahrez rightly hogged the headlines in his first appearance since a £60million move from Leicester in what was an otherwise forgettable International Champions Cup fixture.

But there was an undertone of awkwardness for Guardiola, who was forced to come face-to-face with two of his more significant failures during his two years at the Ethiad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola stands on the sidelines during Manchester City's game with Borussia Dortmund

Pep Guardiola stands on the sidelines during Manchester City's game with Borussia Dortmund

Pep Guardiola stands on the sidelines during Manchester City’s game with Borussia Dortmund

Jadon Sancho represented the first as he played against the side he turned his back on in search of more senior football last summer. The fact that the 18-year-old was coming up against Mahrez would have helped to further justify his decision to leave. 

Indeed, with a bottomless pit of money available to Guardiola and pressure to win, Sancho believed he would never be given the time to fulfil his talent. Still, it takes a brave man to turn down the chance to work with the game’s most reputable coach.

His gamble has so far paid off. The flying winger started seven Bundesliga games last season and became the youngest English player ever to score in the division when he netted against Bayer Leverkusen in April. 

Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund's No 7, turned his back on Guardiola last summer

Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund's No 7, turned his back on Guardiola last summer

Jadon Sancho, Borussia Dortmund’s No 7, turned his back on Guardiola last summer

The 18-year-old (left) took a big gamble by leaving Manchester City, but it's paying off so far

The 18-year-old (left) took a big gamble by leaving Manchester City, but it's paying off so far

The 18-year-old (left) took a big gamble by leaving Manchester City, but it’s paying off so far

Meanwhile, Manchester City's Phil Foden, 18, is still fighting to get more first-team action

Meanwhile, Manchester City's Phil Foden, 18, is still fighting to get more first-team action

Meanwhile, Manchester City’s Phil Foden, 18, is still fighting to get more first-team action

Meanwhile, the arguably more talented Phil Foden failed to start a single Premier League game as Manchester City strolled to the tile. The prodigious midfielder instead had to spend much of his time acting as a ringer at Under-23 level, scoring six goals and assisting five more in just nine appearances.

Guardiola has always insisted that Foden has a future at the club and has taken every opportunity to wax lyrical about his talent. At the same time, he  pursued a deal for Napoli’s Jorginho, a very similar midfield player who eventually joined Chelsea.

That suggests the impetus remains on signing the ready-made article and perhaps reveals that Mahrez would have been heading to the Etihad Stadium regardless of whether Sancho was still there or not.

On the other end of the scale was the reappearance of Joe Hart in a Manchester City shirt. Unlike Sancho, Guardiola has been actively trying to sell the goalkeeper since arriving at the club two summers ago.

Two lacklustre loan spells at both Torino and West Ham have decimated not only his reputation but also his transfer value. Had Manchester City cashed in two years ago, they would have got big money. Now, they could part with him for as little as £5m.

Joe Hart played for Manchester City two seasons after Guardiola told him he had no future

Joe Hart played for Manchester City two seasons after Guardiola told him he had no future

Joe Hart played for Manchester City two seasons after Guardiola told him he had no future

The English goalkeeper may be keen to leave Manchester City, but is still waiting for offers

The English goalkeeper may be keen to leave Manchester City, but is still waiting for offers

The English goalkeeper may be keen to leave Manchester City, but is still waiting for offers

Hart would have been more surprised than anyone when he was invited on their pre-season tour of America, although it appears he may be there simply to make up the numbers rather than being a final chance to change Guardiola’s mind.

His fall from grace, which saw him left out of England’s World Cup squad, means he would fit perfectly on the Manchester City bench, but Hart doesn’t seem like the man to give up on a career that once looked to be heading for the stars. 

Guardiola is not the ruthless type that will throw Hart out of the dressing room, as Jose Mourinho once did with Bastian Schweinsteiger. Yet, a man who demands only the best, he will also not entertain the idea of playing him in a match that matters. 

Until Hart finds a new club — Chelsea are the latest to consider a move — the pair are stuck in an awkward situation where both wish to put a line under a relationship that never developed.

Guardiola will be keen to get Hart off the books despite him being a luxurious No 2 goalkeeper

Guardiola will be keen to get Hart off the books despite him being a luxurious No 2 goalkeeper

Guardiola will be keen to get Hart off the books despite him being a luxurious No 2 goalkeeper

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