Pep Guardiola joked he is a “genius” and took advice from a journalist for the pivotal substitutions that helped Manchester City to a 1-0 win at Chelsea.
Jack Grealish teed up fellow sub Riyad Mahrez just three minutes after entering the fray in the second half at Stamford Bridge on Thursday.
Guardiola had earlier shaken things up at the break with Rico Lewis and Manuel Akanji replacing Kyle Walker and Joao Cancelo after a lacklustre first-half showing from his side.
Asked about the inspired changes, Guardiola quipped: “I’m a genius!
“In the last press conference it was [journalist] Jamie Jackson, and he said ‘why did I make a substitution on 81 minutes against Everton?’ And I took notes and I thought about him at half-time and I changed it at half-time.”
Expanding on his thought process, Guardiola explained: “The first half was sloppy. We didn’t create much, our pressing was so poor we were not well organised and in the second half especially with Manuel and Rico we were better.
“All managers try to make subs to improve the team. Sometimes the team are losing, but you are playing well. So why should I change when I have the feeling they are doing well? Why should I do it?
“Today, after 20 minutes, because you have to give the game a little bit of time, I realise I don’t like what I’m seeing. Why do you have to wait?
“Everyone saw it, from the first minute of the second half it was a completely different Manchester City.”
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It was an important win for City, who have trimmed the gap to leaders Arsenal back to five points after the Gunners were held to a goalless draw by Newcastle United on Tuesday.
Guardiola is content with the position he finds his side in, stressing the difficulty of motivating a team that has won four titles in the previous five seasons.
“We could lose here, but now we have a five-point gap. We have three less points to play for,” he added.
“It means a lot, but we have to prove ourselves because it is normal to be in this position after four Premier Leagues in five years.
“We have the mindset that in November the people believe we are already champions, and this is impossible.
“Other teams that don’t have this pressure because people say in September that City are going to win.
“After four Premier Leagues in five years it is not easy to push them again. That is why I am satisfied after what happened in recent years.
“We’d prefer to be closer but with the way Arsenal play they deserve to better. For us it was so important, especially in the second half, to be aware that we can do it again and again and again.”
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