NANJING, China, Jul 17 – Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola said on Wednesday that he will let his players decide who will captain the Premier League champions next season following the departure of long-time skipper Vincent Kompany.
The captain’s armband is up for grabs at City after Kompany left at the end of last season after 11 years in Manchester to take up a player-coach role at Anderlecht, the club at which the 33-year-old started his career.
“We will choose the team captain. We will wait until everyone is back and they will choose their captain,” said Guardiola.
David Silva led City on Wednesday as they came from behind to beat West Ham United 4-1 in a friendly in the Chinese city of Nanjing.
England international Raheem Sterling, who enjoyed his best season last year for club and country, scored a brace in the second half as West Ham’s defence went AWOL.
West Ham took the lead with a Mark Noble penalty before City levelled through Silva, then Lukas Nmecha scored from the spot to give Guardiola’s side the half-time lead.
“We were lucky to go 2-1 in front,” said Guardiola, bemoaning the sticky conditions in Nanjing and City’s late arrival in China following a two-day delay because of a paperwork issue related to their flight.
Guardiola fielded a mixture of first-team regulars and youngsters with Kevin De Bruyne, who missed most of last season injured, a second-half substitute.
He was joined after the break by German winger Leroy Sane, who has been linked with a big-money move to Bayern Munich.
Spanish international midfielder Rodri, who joined City earlier this month on a five-year deal from Atletico Madrid, made his debut.
The 23-year-old officially became a City player a day after the La Liga club revealed the 70-million-euro ($78.5 million) release clause in his contract had been triggered.
City’s arrival in China for the Premier League Asia Trophy was twice put back because of an “administrative issue” — likely to have infuriated a perfectionist like Guardiola.
But if it bothered the English champions it did not show, Sterling sealing a handsome City win with composed finishes on the hour and then again soon after.
In the other match in the exhibition tournament, the scale of the task facing new head coach Steve Bruce was laid bare as Newcastle United were thrashed 4-0 by Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Bruce, whose appointment was confirmed just hours before kick-off, will jet over to take charge of Newcastle’s next friendly, against West Ham, in Shanghai on Saturday.
It was only a low-key friendly, but the heavy defeat to Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolves was more evidence that Newcastle are likely to be battling relegation this season.
City face Wolves in the final, also on Saturday in Shanghai.