Manchester City defender Kyle Walker has opened up about feeling ‘hurt’ by recent criticism from manager Pep Guardiola.
Walker, a regular starter for City ever since his 2017 move from Tottenham, lost his place in the starting lineup against Bournemouth in February, leading to Guardiola stating that the 32-year-old was incapable of playing in the team’s three-at-the-back system.
“He cannot do it. He will always have pace; Kyle at 60 years old will be the fastest player in this room. To play inside you have to have educated movements. He doesn’t have every one of the characteristics,” Guardiola said earlier this season.
“He has played as a full-back coming inside in the past with four at the back. He has done really well but this shape of three at the back and two in the middle, he cannot do it.”
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The right-back was asked about Guardiola’s comments ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League semi-final second leg against Real Madrid.
“Did it hurt? Of course it did. I can’t lie and say it didn’t hurt. You start to doubt yourself,” Walker admitted.
Following his omission from that Bournemouth match, Walker found himself left out of three of the next four Premier League games. He also spent time on the bench during Champions League matches.
Walker acknowledged: “Sometimes, you don’t always agree with certain opinions in football but what he has done for me and for Man City in the last six years has been nothing short of tremendous.
“He is my boss and I am one of the captains. I needed to make sure my disappointment isn’t shown on the team.”
However, an injury to Nathan Ake provided Walker with an opportunity to regain his place in the team. With Ake sidelined, Guardiola was compelled to field Manuel Akanji at left-back instead.
Walker has responded with a series of impressive performances, and reflecting on his resurgence added: “I had to react as a professional. I had to go back to basics, to what I am good at and what he bought me for and prove him wrong. That is what I have done.”
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