Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has urged fans to show up in greater numbers to support the team. Image Credit: AFP

Manchester: Manchester City’s official supporters club has told manager Pep Guardiola to stick to coaching after he commented on the thousands of empty seats for their Champions League win over RB Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

Guardiola urged fans to show up in greater numbers to support the team after their 6-3 win over Leipzig, which was watched by just over 38,000 supporters, well below the Etihad’s capacity of about 54,000.

Surprised by comments

Kevin Parker, the general secretary of City’s official supporters’ club, told British media he was surprised by Guardiola’s comments.

“He doesn’t understand the difficulties that some people might have getting to a game at the Etihad on a Wednesday evening at 8:00 p.m.,” said Parker.

“They’ve got kids to think of, they might not be able to afford it, there are still some COVID issues about ... I don’t see why he comments on it. He’s absolutely the best coach in the world but, in the nicest possible way, I think maybe he should stick to that.”

City return to Premier League action when they host Southampton tomorrow and Parker said there was no doubt the stadium will be full.

“Of course he would want a full house but I don’t know why he would question whether we’d have one against Southampton,” Parker added. “It is a different scenario.

“We have played two Saturday home games and the stadium from a City perspective at least was full on both occasions. I don’t think anybody anywhere within the club should be questioning the loyalty of the supporters. It is frustrating.”

De Bruyne back

Guardiola has named the same starting line-up in three consecutive top-flight matches for the first time as a manager, but may opt for changes against Saints.

Kevin de Bruyne returned from injury in midweek and could play his first Premier League game for a month.

Southampton, who have gone 10 league games without a win away to City, losing nine of those fixtures, remain without Theo Walcott and Stuart Armstrong. Will Smallbone has resumed training but lacks match fitness after nine months out with a knee injury.

Forward Shane Long, who tested positive for Covid-19 earlier this month, is back in contention.