Micah Richards has predicted how the Manchester City players will perform without having Pep Guardiola in the dugout.

Earlier this week, it was revealed that the City manager had to have surgery on a back issue and will be out of action until after the international break.

Therefore, the Spaniard will not be on the touchline for City’s upcoming Premier League matches against Sheffield United and Fulham.

With the Citizens set to travel to Bramall Lane on Sunday for their latest league outing and first without Guardiola, one pundit and former City player has shared his thoughts on the matter, particularly from the players’ point of view.

Richards drops City prediction amid Guardiola absence

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Speaking in a recent edition of The Rest Is Football alongside Gary Lineker and Alan Shearer, Richards had this to say when asked what sort of impact Guardiola’s absence on the touchline will have on the City players.

He said: “I think the players will play with a little more freedom.

“I think the difference in having Pep there and not is between potentially winning and losing in the big games.

“You know when you need the little tactical tweaks and he’s basically just saying ‘no, going too far,’ or ‘push up,’ so I think in the big, big games, no disrespect to the Premier League.

“I think they can cope without Pep. If they were playing Real Madrid or Barcelona tomorrow I think they would miss him.” 

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In Guardiola’s absence, the Manchester club will have assistant coach Juanma Lillo in charge of the team, although he did reveal in his recent press conference that the 52-year-old is still focused on the match and will be in constant communication with his coaching staff about it.

In regards to how the players could act without having Guardiola directing them at the side of the pitch, it’s easy to see why Richards think the City players could ease up and play with more freedom since they won’t have the manager telling them what to do.

However, given how the manager will still have his eyes on the game and following it closely, we feel that it wouldn’t be wise for any City player to stride too far away from what is asked of them by Lillo, or else they could find themselves out of the team.

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