Gary Neville has claimed that the unproven defensive partnership of Nicolas Otamendi and John Stones will cost Manchester City the title this season.
Otamendi and Stones combined to produce a nightmare defensive error to hand Norwich City a decisive third goal during their 3-2 defeat to the Canaries over the weekend, with the two defenders losing the ball deep in their own half.
The result leaves City five points behind leaders Liverpool, who have won all of their five games so far this season.
Reflecting on the pair's display at Carrow Road on Monday Night Football, Neville said: "Guardiola gave up on this partnership 18 months ago when Laporte came to the club. Otamendi always gets caught out as a centre-back and quickens up the opposition in attack. He's so not a Pep Guardiola type centre-back, they're usually composed but he's rash.
"Sir Alex Ferguson at times during his Manchester United career would see a game too far with players and say, 'That's it, you're done'. Manchester City's 4-3 defeat at Liverpool in 2018 was the game when Guardiola decided that Stones and Otamendi couldn't play together. Laporte's injury, Kompany leaving and not replacing him is a big problem for Manchester City. Stones and Otamendi have played 25 games under Guardiola in the Premier League.
"They've conceded more goals than any other partnership, conceded more goals per game, the clean sheets are down, the three-plus goals conceded is well up and then there's the big one, lower win percentage. That will cost Manchester City the Premier League title. If these two play together at their current rate of performance they won't win the league."
City's failure to replace captain Vincent Kompany has left Guardiola short of options at the back, and the implosion on Saturday may well prompt the 48-year-old into using Fernandinho in that role instead.body check tags ::