·3 October 2023
·3 October 2023
Manchester City star Matheus Nunes found himself in a “unique” situation in the Etihad Stadium outfit’s 2-1 defeat at Wolverhampton Wanderers last weekend, as journalist Dean Jones analyses Pep Guardiola’s decision to substitute the midfielder at half-time with GIVEMESPORT.
The Sky Blues are still sitting pretty at the top of the Premier League table despite a defeat at Molineux.
Manchester City had been searching for a midfielder to sign throughout the summer following the departure of club captain Ilkay Gundogan to Barcelona after the expiry of his contract at the Etihad Stadium.
However, the move was pulled amid an FA betting investigation into the South American. Sources close to the deal hoped Paqueta would sign for City in January, but that attitude could have changed following a late move in the market from the treble holders.
That is because, on the summer transfer window’s Deadline Day, City confirmed the arrival of Wolves midfielder Nunes in a deal worth £53m. The Portugal international had refused to train for Gary O’Neil’s side after Wanderers rejected an initial £47m approach for the midfielder.
Jones had told GIVEMESPORT in August that the 25-year-old had seen his head turned by a potential switch to the Etihad Stadium. Nunes eventually got his move, with City selling Tommy Doyle to the Black Country outfit separately.
Unsurprisingly, Nunes received a hostile reception when returning to Molineux, as he started for Manchester City in last weekend’s clash in the West Midlands. City, who owned the only 100% record in the season’s Premier League before the game, were warm favourites to beat a side that struggled to a 1-1 draw at Luton Town and suffered a 3-2 Carabao Cup defeat at Ipswich Town in the previous seven days.
But an own goal from Ruben Dias and a strike from Hwang Hee-chan either side of Julian Alvarez’s equaliser secured a 2-1 victory for O’Neil’s side, with Nunes hooked at half-time following an underwhelming first-half display. It summed up a disappointing afternoon for Guardiola’s side, who face title challengers Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Jones has suggested that Nunes may have been “unfortunate” to find himself sacrificed at half-time, having been booed and mocked with every touch he took. However, the journalist also says that it’s early days and that the midfielder doesn’t have “that City DNA about him” yet. He told GIVEMESPORT:
“He was perhaps unfortunate to be sacrificed early in the game because he wasn't the only one underperforming. But, ultimately, he was in a unique situation whereby every touch was being booed. He was being mocked. So, he had extra pressure on him to perform, which, in Guardiola’s mind, probably wasn't helping to ensure that his team could make the best decisions going forward into that game. “We must realise that Nunes doesn't yet have that City DNA about him. He's been in that team and squad for a short time. So, if you're going to take anybody out of the spotlight in a moment of what they would consider a crisis, then you probably just have to accept that.”
Man City and Nunes have an immediate chance to make amends for last weekend’s disappointing showing at Molineux when they travel to RB Leipzig for their second Champions League group stage clash. The Sky Blues dispatched Serbian champions Crvena zvezda 3-1 in their opening European fixture, as they aim to retain their continental crown, alongside their Premier League and FA Cup titles.
Guardiola’s side then travel to Arsenal in a match that could have a massive say in the outcome of the Premier League title. Following the season’s second international break, Brighton & Hove Albion visit the Etihad Stadium before a trip to Swiss outfit Young Boys awaits in their next Champions League fixture on 25th October.
City close the month with the small matter of a derby clash with inter-city rivals Manchester United, aiming to avenge last season’s 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford.
Nunes’ disappointing showing at Molineux must be taken with a pinch of salt. The summer signing is adapting to Guardiola’s system and could take some time to become fluent in his role as City look to press on and retain their titles.
The £130,000 per-week earner can look to Jack Grealish as a player who struggled upon arriving at the Etihad before developing into a key player for the Catalan, playing his part in City’s historic treble-winning campaign. Therefore, Nunes hopes to hit the ground running in the upcoming games and put last weekend’s setback behind him.
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