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Fernandinho set for extended spell in City’s defence

Fernandinho could be set for an extended stay in the Manchester City defence.

Manager Pep Guardiola admits he is unlikely to move the Brazilian back into midfield because he has adapted to playing in the back four so well.

With City light on central defenders after the departure of Vincent Kompany, the 34-year-old was pressed into emergency action at the back earlier this season due to injuries to Aymeric Laporte and John Stones.

Stones returned to action last month but Fernandinho has remained at centre-back, partnering either the England international or Nicolas Otamendi.

His ability in the role was evident on Saturday in a commanding display as City came from behind to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the Premier League.

City were criticised after their loss at Liverpool a fortnight ago, with suggestions Fernandinho’s presence was being missed in midfield, but Guardiola seems unlikely to change things.

“If Rodri and (Ilkay) Gunodgan are fit, I don’t think so,” said the City boss. “I like Fernandinho in that position. With the problems we have I like it.

Fernandinho has impressed in defence

Fernandinho has impressed in defence (Martin Rickett/PA)

“I know he can play (in midfield) but we have Gundogan, and I trust him a lot, and Rodri.”

Guardiola was impressed by Fernandinho at Anfield but feels he did not get the credit he deserved because of the result. The champions lost the top-of-the-table clash 3-1.

A sarcastic Guardiola said: “If we lose he plays s***. I know that. In Anfield he was the best central defender we played there, in the back four. He played a disaster. I know how this job works.

“But he was incredible in Anfield, he was incredible on Saturday.”

Expanding on the theme of criticism, Guardiola feels the team as a whole have been harshly treated over their performances this term.

City, who clocked up a record 100 points in their 2018 title win and won a domestic treble last season, have lost three of their opening 13 Premier League games. They are third and trail leaders Liverpool by nine points.

Guardiola said: “It looks like, if we won the last two Premier Leagues, we have to win seven Premier Leagues in a row and we have to make 200 points every season. It doesn’t work in that way in the high, high level.”

After their achievements of the last two seasons, Guardiola does not think people should write off his side.

Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy

Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy (Anthony Devlin/PA)

He said: “We didn’t give up last season and that’s why we won again. Maybe we are going to lose (this season) but this team will never give up. This team tries.

“If you believe (because of) the Norwich defeat and the other ones I am going to doubt my players, because they didn’t try, you are wrong.

“If you have doubts, last season we wouldn’t have been able to do what we have done. After winning 100 points, winning four titles, that had never happened before. I see, every morning, my team and I don’t have doubts.”