Kevin De Bruyne: Man City boss Pep Guardiola says ‘people love him’ on midfielder’s return

Kevin De Bruyne –

BBC Sport at Etihad Stadium

In isolation, a routine and emphatic FA Cup third round win for Manchester City against a team from the division below was nothing ordinary, but there was one moment just after half-time that stood out.

Two goals in the first half against Huddersfield Town did little to excite the home crowd. Instead it was Kevin De Bruyne’s emergence from the bench to warm up that arguably got the biggest reaction.

Chants of “Oh Kevin De Bruyne” erupted before the Belgian playmaker received a standing ovation before he entered the field in the 57th minute, marking his first time in action since injuring his hamstring in his Premier League opener. Returned. game of the season about five months ago.

He has been one of the most impressive players in the Premier League since joining from Wolfsburg in 2015, and the reaction from Manchester City fans upon his return highlights what they believe he can do in the second half of the season. What an important role it will play.

“Kevin must know how much people love him,” said Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola after his team beat Huddersfield 5-0 to reach the fourth round.

“He’s incredible. Kevin, unless he decides to leave or retire, will always be one of the most beloved players. We’re really happy for him.”

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‘He can always see the full picture’

Despite being out of the game for so long, it didn’t take much time for the 32-year-old to create the old magic.

He was involved in Manchester City’s fourth goal before providing an assist for their fifth, spotting Jeremy Doku – who was also returning from injury – unmarked inside the box and cutting the ball back to score. .

Former Everton midfielder Leon Osman, commentating on the game for BBC Sport, said, “We’re all talking about De Bruyne coming back and this is why.”

“He has the ability to pick out an extra teammate in the field. He can always see the whole picture.”

Of course, Manchester City’s squad is loaded with talent and De Bruyne’s advancing years mean he is perhaps not as integral to their chances of success as he once was, but he can still have a significant influence. .

In the Premier League, Guardiola’s side sit third, five points behind leaders Liverpool, but with a game in hand, and Reds boss Jurgen Klopp recently said the whole country is worried about the possibility of De Bruyne’s imminent return. Was starting to move.

The comment was made in jest, although there may have been an element of seriousness as any team would be strengthened by a player like De Bruyne returning to full fitness.

However, Guardiola was still keen to err on the side of caution as he insisted after the win over Huddersfield that De Bruyne would need several more training sessions to be able to play a full 90 minutes again.

“I said before that he needs to accumulate more training sessions than games,” Guardiola said.

“We have another chance in Newcastle and then two weeks off for some good training in Abu Dhabi.”

De Bruyne agrees he will need to get himself back into action, saying he tried to turn his long absence from a negative into a positive after a busy few seasons for club and country.

“I kind of enjoyed it, to be honest,” he said. “Initially it was a big shock but I knew I was going to be out for four or five months, so after the first reaction I thought to myself that I need to work hard while I’m working, But then I can enjoy things that I couldn’t do with my family and friends.

“Maybe it was good to freshen up a bit. Not that I needed a break, but I took the break to turn a loss into an advantage.

“I felt good so I’m happy with that but I’m still not where I need to be.

“There will be moments when I want to play every game but I know in the back of my mind I need to take care of myself.”

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Former Manchester City midfielder Michael Brown also believes that De Bruyne will take time to reach his best performance.

“When you’re out for so long, you put in more work in the gym, so Kevin De Bruyne looks a bit heavy,” he said.

“When the game was won it was a good time to push him forward, he could just feel his way through. He came to the ball under pressure at times and made some good passes.

“You have to tread carefully here, it will take several weeks for him to come back.”

Manchester City won five trophies in 2023 and in 2024 they could make more history by becoming the first team to win the Premier League four seasons in a row.

With the return of De Bruyne, their chances of doing so have certainly improved.

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