'Old man' Kevin De Bruyne fires back at critics amid reduced Man City minutes: 'I don't have to do anything different!'
- Belgian now longer a guaranteed starter
- Still has an important role to play
- Tops charts for assists and chances created
WHAT HAPPENED? The Belgium international midfielder has struggled with illness and injury at times this season, leading to him seeing fewer minutes that he is accustomed to. De Bruyne has started just five of City’s last nine games – and was back on the bench for a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace. However, speaking after that game, he eager to point out that he has still provided more assists and created more chances than anybody else in the Premier League.
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WHAT THEY SAID: Two-time PFA Player of the Year De Bruyne has said of living up to expectations: “Obviously, people have a different standard [for me] to a lot of players. It's just what it is. People expect me to score every game and assist every game. I think I've been playing quite well. Maybe there have been fewer assists but I don't think I've been creating less. I don't really look at these things. I feel fine.
"I think I'm playing alright - maybe not the best I've every played but it's good. You know the stats - I've created the most in the league and have the most assists and I've not even played four or five games. For me, it is the same. I've been doing the same thing for eight years here and 15 years in professional football so I'm feeling fine. I expect more from myself than you guys will ever do. You know what people are going to say outside but there's no pressure. I play football because I like it, not because I have to, so it's good.”
THE BIGGER PICTURE: De Bruyne added on experience allowing him to turn a deaf ear to any detractors: “Whenever I go on the pitch I try to do what I do always. I don't feel that I necessarily have to do something different. I'm an old man in this game, I know how it is. I'm fine. Obviously you want to play as much as possible but if you don't play you do the best for 10 minutes and that's what I did and get the win for the team. I don't have to do anything different. People know who I am after eight years, know what I do for the team, what I'm good at and what I'm not good at. I don't want to do different things that I'm not good at on and off the pitch. Everyone has his role to play and that's really important to maintain your role.”
IN A PHOTO:
WHAT NEXT? De Bruyne has scored five goals and registered 17 assists for City this season, with those exploits helping to keep Pep Guardiola’s side in the hunt for Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup glory.