Using his thumbs to explain how he could not manoeuvre Sergio Aguero around a football pitch, you got the impression Pep Guardiola sometimes wished he could.
Guardiola can protest all he wants but there is little doubt Aguero has frustrated and delighted his coach in equal measure this season.
Had the spectacular introduction of Gabriel Jesus not been abruptly curtailed by a cracked bone, Aguero would probably have been kicking his heels on the bench for the meeting with Monaco tonight.
Instead, he will again be the man City look to as they strive for a place in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Guardiola has repeatedly told Aguero exactly what he expects from him but admitted he cannot control his main striker, Playstation-style. He explained: “With the guys who score goals, it is talent, it is instinct, how they have to move, create spaces.
“It is not to be controlled. He is going to have to do it himself.
“Sergio has enough experience. He knows, everybody knows.
“I know what he is trying to do, without the ball and with it.
“We are going to talk to him, like with all of his team-mates, to convince him in these two games.”
Aguero has 20 goals in the Champions League for City and the sort of experience and nous that could prove crucial.
While Guardiola has a squad stocked with established European stars, he still insists City remains a club on a Champions League learning curve, playing for the fourth time at this stage. He said: “We are delighted to be here. We are a club with a short history in the Champions League.
“Monaco plays in the biggest stages more than us. We are improving.”
Confirming Vincent Kompany will not be available for the first leg – he should be ready for the FA Cup replay with Huddersfield next Tuesday – Guardiola was keen to emphasise what he sees as a major challenge for his expensively-assembled team.
Free-scoring Monaco, who have beaten Arsenal and Spurs on English soil in recent years, are three points clear of Paris Saint-Germain in Ligue 1 – a position made to look all the more remarkable by PSG’s thrashing of Barcelona last week.
Guardiola said: “I didn’t need a result like PSG-Barcelona to realise how good French football is.
“My opinion about Monaco before the game with Barcelona and after remains the same.
“As a spectator, it is so nice to see them. I am really impressed how good they are, how physically strong. The full-backs play like wingers, the wingers play like attacking midfielders.
“Against Tottenham, they had one or two chances and score goals. They don’t need many chances.”
With his lavish praise for Monaco, it was almost as if Guardiola wanted to paint City as underdogs.
He sees their prospects as no more than 50-50, adding: “Anything can happen. Everyone can beat you and everyone can say bye, bye.”
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