Soccer-No striker, no problem, says Guardiola after Saints stalemate

Soccer Football - Premier League - Manchester City v Southampton - Etihad Stadium, Manchester, Britain - September 18, 2021 Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola gives instructions to his players REUTERS/Phil Noble

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said the club's failure to sign a new striker in the close season was not the reason they were unable to beat Southampton on Saturday.

City were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at the Etihad Stadium after mustering just one shot on target all match, their lowest tally in a Premier League game since March 2017.

Guardiola's side were heavily linked in the British media with Tottenham Hotspur's Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo as they looked to replace all-time top goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who left for Barcelona ahead of the new season, but they were ultimately left frustrated in the transfer market.

"Today we didn't win not because we didn't have a centre forward," Guardiola said.

"We didn't win because our process in the buildup was wrong or the better balls for players up front were not good. When they are good, they can run, arrive in other positions.

"That (no striker) is not the reason. The reason is because we didn't do our process from our back four and Fernandinho. The five guys who have to bring the ball to the other players were not good today."

Guardiola also doubled down on his denial of any wrongdoing following his comments that a greater number of fans needed to attend the Etihad, a statement that angered supporters' groups.

"I didn't say anything wrong after the Leipzig match," Guardiola added. "I said we need support of our fans. I never complained about how many come or don’t come. I've never done this in my life.

"I am grateful for 100 people, 85 people extra in the stadium. I thank them (fans) for coming. Of course they were awesome especially in last minute when we push more. It was difficult to ask them to get right behind us when we are not good or we have lost."

(Reporting by Peter Hall; Editing by Toby Davis)

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