(Reuters) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola’s return to the dugout after a European touchline ban could give them an extra boost in the Premier League this weekend, Cardiff City boss Neil Warnock said on Friday.
Manchester City looked far from potential Champions League winners without their Spanish manager when they were beaten 2-1 by Olympique Lyonnais at home on Tuesday, becoming the first English team to lose four games in the competition in a row.
Warnock believes the defeat could serve as a wake-up call for defending champions City ahead of their league visit to Cardiff on Saturday.
“He’s (Guardiola) so important there I think it’ll bring the best out of them,” Warnock told a news conference.
“If you think Pep’s worried about Cardiff City that’s fantastic. He won’t be let me assure you, he’ll be more concerned with own his players because if they play (like they can) they beat everyone in the country, not just Cardiff City.”
Guardiola’s side, who are currently third in the league with 13 points from five games, are unbeaten in their last 21 matches against promoted teams since a defeat at Burnley in March 2015.
Warnock wants his players to express themselves on the pitch as they chase their first league victory on their return to top-flight football.
“As long as we prepare them as best we can to try and make a game of it, I want us to try and enjoy it,” he added.
“It is difficult when you lose but I want them to try and show they can put up a good game against them without just having everyone at the back and defending for our lives all the game.”
Warnock confirmed midfielder Aron Gunnarsson has suffered yet another injury setback this week and will not be rushed back into action.
The Iceland international is yet to feature for his club this season due to a knee problem.
(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)