Manchester City ran riot in front of a sun-kissed Etihad Stadium crowd on Saturday afternoon, thrashing Watford 8-0 in the process.
The Citizens became the fastest Premier League side to score 5 goals in just 18 minutes, avenging their embarrassing loss to Norwich City last week in style.
While the post-match hype was all about the destructive work from those playing in the field, Pep Guardiola took time to give special praise to someone who didn’t even feature.
The Spaniard hailed his substitute and young defender Eric Garcia for his tactical aptitude leading up to the game.
Speaking about Garcia’s impressive reading of the game in the pre-match drills, he said, “Pays attention in the warm up. We had doubts about whether Watford would play four or five in the back – and he(Garcia) saw they made some movements in their warm-up that they would play four at the back.
“He’s so clever. Played well. He’s going to play a lot of minutes.”
The 18-year-old centre-back has been coming through Manchester City’s system and has caught Guardiola’s eye especially for his confidence and expert game-reading skills at such a young age.
He played in three Carabao Cup games for City as they did the domestic treble last season, helping them to back-to-back clean-sheets in the process as well.
It’s because of his stunning development over the year that the Spaniard will get another chance to impress again in the Carabao Cup this season as the Citizens look to defend their title.
When talking about his chances of playing this season, Pep said, “He played in the Carabao Cup [last season] and was outstanding,”
“Tuesday he will play against Preston. Incredibly clever guy, able to lead the line” he further lauded him with.
The Spanish gaffer also talked up his ability on the ball, which is quintessential towards thriving in City’s possession-based, quick link-up style. Guardiola added, “With the ball, incredible, knows absolutely everything.”
City are expected to play a completely different side when they take on Preston North End in the Carabao Cup game on Tuesday. Along with Garcia, a host of different youngsters are all set to get their opportunities along with some other plays who haven’t received much playing time yet.
However, it’s the perfect opportunity for the 18-year-old to prove himself to his manager. With City lacking defensive options in Stones still being out for a month and Laporte for the rest of 2019, Guardiola is looking for bright centre-backs.
If Garcia puts in a commanding performance, a Premier League appearance wouldn’t be far away.