Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has warned his players about off-field behaviour at Christmas after Jack Grealish and Phil Foden were reportedly pictured in a nightclub and then dropped for the clash at Newcastle.
The England duo along with John Stones were the only changes to the side that thrashed Leeds 7-0 when City visited St James’ Park and won 4-0. Foden and Grealish were replaced in the starting XI by Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus, while Joao Cancelo, available again after suspension, returned to Guardiola’s first team in place of Stones.
Stones came off the bench in the 70th minute but Grealish and Foden were unused substitutes.
The Telegraph newspaper has published a picture of Grealish and Foden purported to be in a nightclub following the game against Leeds and claim City were unhappy with the condition of the pair when they arrived for a recovery session the next day.
Guardiola said on Sunday: “It was not rotation. I decided on this team because they deserved to play today, these guys and not the other ones.
“At Christmas time I pay a lot of attention to behaviour on and off the pitch. And when off the pitch is not proper, they are not going to play.
“So we have to be focused all the time because of distractions at Christmas time and everything that happens – you have to still be focused.”
Grealish scored just his third goal for City in the Leeds win and had impressed in the demolition at the Etihad, but he was not present as City extended their lead at the Premier League summit on Tyneside amid growing Covid-19 cases in the Premier League and a succession of cancelled games.
Last month Guardiola said Grealish must produce his best for the rest of the season but had also praised the way the club’s £100m record signing has settled in at Manchester City.
Foden, meanwhile, has also had a superb season so far but was also in the picture apparently posted on social media with a fan.
Guardiola was critical of his side’s performance in general despite their four goals against Eddie Howe’s relegation-threatened Magpies,
“It was a good result but not a good performance,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “The first half was one of the poorest we have had this season. We were not there. We didn’t play in the rhythm we should play.
“We have an obligation to play every single game at the highest level possible. I don’t have reason why we don’t play good every time.”
Sky Sports News has attempted to contact Man City for comment.