Pep Guardiola hailed Leroy Sane’s goalscoring return to Manchester City’s starting line-up, but called on the winger to deliver such performances more consistently.
Sane, a shock omission from Germany’s squad for the World Cup, was on the fringes at City in the early weeks of the season, with players including new signing Riyad Mahrez seemingly above him in the pecking order.
But Sane started Saturday’s 3-0 Premier League win against Fulham and scored the opening goal from close range in the second minute at the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola had demanded a response from Sane in his pre-match media briefing and the City boss praised the winger’s display afterwards.
“We never, even in this period where he didn’t play, had any doubts about his quality,” said Guardiola. “He showed it many times in the last season.
“And today he played so good, but we cannot forget sometimes it happens – he is 22 years old and he can be a little bit up and down at that age.
“He has to realise for himself what a professional has to do, but I am delighted for his performance, a big compliment.”
David Silva and Raheem Sterling scored City’s other goals in a comprehensive victory, but it was Bernardo Silva who caught the eye for the champions.
“It’s almost impossible to be more pleased as a manager, he deserves to play all the minutes he’s playing,” Guardiola said of the Portugal international.
“He’s a good example for all the guys. I don’t forget the behaviour he had last season, he played a lot but not at the start, I don’t forget his behaviour with his team-mates – never.
“Last season when I was asked about Bernardo, I said I don’t know what happens in the future, but if I stay this guy will stay here because he is special.
“He is smarter because fighting one against one [physically] he’s going to lose 10 times out of 10, but he is so clever he finds the one when the other guy is less stable. He is so intelligent, he can play in three or four different positions.
“Unfortunately he couldn’t score, but he deserves all my respect, as a football player he’s quality. Normally the statistics after the game show he runs the most, 12 or 13 kilometres, and always in the right tempo and with the right sense, so thanks very much to the club for buying him from Monaco.”