Pep Guardiola: Manchester City's Raheem Sterling's stepover incident was avoidable
MANCHESTER, England -- Pep Guardiola said his Manchester City players felt the pressure of the derby in their 3-1 win over United on Sunday, but that incidents such as Raheem Sterling's stepovers are avoidable.
The winger kept the ball in the corner during the final minutes of the encounter, upsetting Juan Mata and leading to Guardiola speaking to him after the final whistle on the pitch.
Guardiola said that it was good of his players to control the game but there was no need for Sterling's showboating.
"I like a lot when he played. The best way to defend the result is to keep the ball. It's the best way," he said. "And they did it, with Leroy and Phil, [Foden] they did it.
"That situation, with two or three minutes left, they control absolutely. It's not just the best way defending back, because everything can happen.
"But he made some movements with the legs, we can avoid it, but he's young and he's going to improve."
Guardiola was pleased with City's performance as a whole after being able to restore their two-goal lead late on.
Goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero put the hosts 2-0 up before Anthony Martial's penalty brought United back into the game, but Ilkay Gundogan scored late on to secure the points.
"The first half was not so good," Guardiola said. "We played like 'I don't want to lose the ball' but not the intention to attack, or to do something.
"We felt the pressure. Always it's inevitable to think about last season what happened again in that situation. But we didn't concede one other chance, we defended so well, the free kicks they are so strong, more than us.
"Especially when Gundogan and Raheem [Sterling] go in the position as a striker we had extra passes, extra passes, and after we played so good. The last 30 minutes we made a very, very good game."
The win maintained City's two-point lead at the table and means they have a better record against their top-six rivals than last season after Sunday's win and picking up a point at second-placed Liverpool earlier in the campaign.
But Guardiola refuted suggestions that Liverpool and Chelsea are hanging on in the title race after making their best-ever starts to a Premier League season.
"Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, they have numbers to be champion," he said. "We are just two points in front, it's nothing. It's true, last season we didn't get points at Anfield, we drew. Last season we lost here, we won. So it's good. For the contenders, four games, three away, one at home, and we got results.
"But the important thing is that we are consistent, we play especially most of the time good. And always I see many things that we can improve."