Kevin De Bruyne scored his first goal of the season for Manchester City on Tuesday night but Pep Guardiola was more impressed with his backwards runs.
The Belgian playmaker has been a peripheral figure so far this season after arriving back at the Etihad with an injury from the European Championship, and Ruben Dias and Ilkay Gundogan have jumped ahead of him in the leadership group.
Guardiola used the Carabao Cup tie against Wycombe to give him a much-needed start ahead of crunch games away to Chelsea, PSG and Liverpool in the next fortnight. And while De Bruyne still needs more time than Phil Foden – man-of-the-match in the 6-1 mauling of the Chairboys – to hit top form, City’s manager was encouraged by the running that he saw from a player that will be vital to their chances of success this season.
Phil was injured for two months after the national team. Phil doesn’t need many games to take his rhythm because he’s a guy who lives 24 hours to play football and his physicality is sharp,” said Guardiola.
“Kevin needs to make a proper pre-season and was injured for a long time, after the final of the Champions League from what [Antonio] Rudiger did.