MANCHESTER CITY boss Pep Guardiola has told Kevin De Bruyne to speak up if he has a problem with him.
De Bruyne was disappointed at being taken off before the hour mark in the midweek Carabao Cup hammering of Burton Albion and went straight down the tunnel to the dressing room.
Guardiola has yet to give the Belgium star 90 minutes in his six appearances since he returned from his second serious knee injury in the middle of last month.
The City boss makes no apology for his treatment of De Bruyne and he is carefully managing him because he broke down after just two starts when he came back from his first knee injury in the autumn.
Guardiola says De Bruyne has not approached him and says he should knock on his door if he is unhappy.
“If he has a problem he knows where I am”
“I don’t know what happened, he didn’t speak to me, so I don’t know what happened,” said Guardiola when asked about De Bruyne’s reaction to being subbed.
“If he has a problem he knows where I am, so I don’t know, really. I didn’t speak with him so that one time I cannot say what he thinks because I don’t know.”
Guardiola is not afraid to upset his players, no matter how stellar their reputations are, and has started Kyle Walker on the bench for City’s last two league games as he went with Danilo.
Walker did not impress on his last league start in City’s shock home loss to Crystal Palace before Christmas and Guardiola says it is a reminder that everyone has to perform to keep their place.
“I think they know that already, but maybe you realise more on the bench,” said the Catalan.
“They know it. From the beginning of the season, we spoke about that. We can imagine a different starting XI and not everyone can play.
“When we don’t win, it’s always ‘why didn’t we play this guy?’. When we win, people don’t think about the players who don’t play.
“But the players who don’t play know they have to be at a high level because the other ones, if they’re injured, they can play.”
Guardiola claimed Brazilian Danilo earned his chance.
“There’s no doubt about how important Kyle is for us, so we need him,” he said. “We need the best Kyle.
“But one day I decided to put Danilo in and he played top, so I gave him more minutes because he also said he’d arrived here from Madrid and I’d never given him four or five games in a row.
“You can’t judge a player when he plays once and then has three or four games beside me [on the bench]. The players need time.
“The winter time was so demanding, so I decided to put Danilo in for a game and he played well, so I said I wanted him for one or two more games.”
Wolves were the first side to take points off City this campaign and Guardiola says he knew from their Carabao Cup clash with them last season that they were a class outfit.
“We realised when we played them in the EFL Cup and in our first away game how complicated it would be,” he said.
“They are strong physically, in the counter-attack and set-pieces. There are not just one or two players to watch, there are three or four and when you’re tired, they can put on new players.
“They defend well deep, they control many areas, they have Joao Moutinho, Ruben Neves, who can shoot from a long way. They are newly promoted and doing incredibly well.”