Pep Guardiola’s Risky Move Pays Off: Stefan Ortega’s Selection Over Ederson Justified in Crucial Win against Brighton

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Ederson’s demotion to the bench does not happen often and he will be back for Sunday’s Manchester derby, but the fact he was dropped here for effectively a must-win game still felt striking.

Brighton demand opponents use their goalkeeper to start play and there is nobody better at that than Manchester City’s No 1.

Yet Ederson was left watching on, with Stefan Ortega preferred — and Pep Guardiola suggested that the decision was a result of Brazil’s difficulties over the international break.

Ederson started both games last week, a draw against Venezuela before losing in Uruguay. ‘The travel,’ Guardiola said. Julian Alvarez got through 78 minutes for Argentina on the same night and started with Erling Haaland, both scorers.

‘Argentina won, and when that happens your mood is better and Brazil it didn’t happen,’ the manager said. ‘It’s these kinds of detail. The first day Eddy arrived he was so, so tired and sometimes I like to (change). Normally I like to play Ortega in the Carabao Cup and the FA Cup but we are out of the Carabao Cup. Sometimes it’s good for Eddy too, to rest a bit to refresh your mind.’

Pep Guardiola’s gamble paid off as Manchester City beat Brighton on Saturday

Stefan Ortega came in for Ederson and made some important saves for the home side

Stefan Ortega came in for Ederson and made some important saves for the home side 

Ortega, who made only his fourth league appearance, admitted to a few shaky moments with the ball at his feet — although he completed a couple of strong stops when Brighton came back into the contest. 

‘Sometimes it is tough but this is my job — to be there when the team needs me and to keep pushing Eddy every day,’ he said. ‘I’m ambitious so of course I’m not happy to sit on the bench, but we are in a team. I’m always waiting to get a chance to get a bit more game time.

‘I try to prepare like I would play just in case because you never know and if you’re not prepared and you get in, you don’t play well. I want to play a lot of games so it’s the same target: give everything in training, show the coaching team that I’m there.’ The likelihood of that appears slim for the 30-year-old, signed on a free transfer last year. 

Ederson went through a tricky spell last season but has re-emerged a better goalkeeper and played a pivotal —often overlooked — role in lifting the Treble.

Ederson found himself on the bench as City got back to winning ways at the Etihad

Ederson found himself on the bench as City got back to winning ways at the Etihad 

‘With the keepers I don’t get involved much,’ Guardiola added. ‘It’s my responsibility but with the final decision most of the times I listen to (coach) Xabi Mancisidor about the keepers and we decide from that.’

Guardiola might be trying to mix things up. City are going for a fourth consecutive title and there is an inevitable hangover from the exploits in June. Victory at Young Boys in Switzerland on Wednesday will all but secure progression in the Champions League and give them a platform to build domestically.

‘The win was really important,’ he said. ‘I know exactly what happens with Brighton. I saw my team. The Treble had an influence on all of us, me included, so we need to be there, arrive in the final decision moments at the end of the season being close to the opponents and try it again.

‘Four in a row has never happened, it shows how difficult it is but now it’s important to be there, especially in the Champions League. Qualify for the next round and we can just focus on the Premier League.’

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