Rodri Assesses Manchester City Start, VAR Controversy in Tottenham Draw

Matt JonesFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2019

Tottenham Hotspur's Argentinian midfielder Erik Lamela (L) vies with Manchester City's Spanish midfielder Rodri during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 17, 2019. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. No use with unauthorized audio, video, data, fixture lists, club/league logos or 'live' services. Online in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No video emulation. Social media in-match use limited to 120 images. An additional 40 images may be used in extra time. No use in betting publications, games or single club/league/player publications. /         (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
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Manchester City midfielder Rodri has said he is pleased with the start he has made to life at the Etihad Stadium and has offered his say on the controversial VAR decisions in Saturday's 2-2 draw with Tottenham Hotspur

City brought the playmaker in from Atletico Madrid in the summer and he has started both Premier League games so far. The early indications are that he will be a big hit for Pep Guardiola's side, impressing at the base of midfield and helping the English champions sustain their attacking play.

Speaking to the club's official website, Rodri opened up on his early days in Manchester and the shift in footballing style he has had to deal with:

"I feel better every day. It's good for me to play minutes, is not easy to get into a team with the dynamic City have—overwhelming, always wanting to attack. I'm trying to settle well, I know I still have a lot to learn, but I'm happy because Pep's showing me a lot of confidence.

"I want to help the team with my style, but at this current point I need to identify what the team demands."

Rodri was a crucial acquisition for City in the summer, as last season one of the few weaknesses in their squad was the absence of a natural replacement for Fernandinho.

Sam Lee of The Athletic said he was impressed with the manner in which Rodri played against Spurs on Saturday:

Sam Lee @SamLee

Obviously that’s not a long-term concern with Rodri, but given it’s the second game of the league season and against this Spurs team, it‘a a factor

In his Premier League debut, the 5-0 win at West Ham United, the former Atletico star shone too:

Squawka Football @Squawka

@muhammadbutt Rodri's Man City debut by numbers: 100% aerial duels won 92% pass accuracy 73 touches 62 passes 3 clearances 2 tackles 1 interception 1 trophy A positive start. https://t.co/WCnKizMqvq

City were denied victory on Saturday against Tottenham when Gabriel Jesus' stoppage-time goal was chalked off following a VAR review. Earlier in the game, Rodri was also involved in a flashpoint, as he appeared to be hauled down by Erik Lamela in the penalty area, although no foul was given.

While the 23-year-old played in La Liga last season where VAR was implemented, he said it is "difficult to get used to."

"Sometimes you don't know why some actions are checked and others aren't, but I think that the officials try to do their job the best they can," he added. "We can only analyse what we control, we can't control the things that are not in our hands."

Per BBC Sport's Simon Stone, former Premier League referee Neil Swarbrick tried to explain why the penalty on Rodri wasn't given:

Simon Stone @sistoney67

Neil Swarbrick on Rodri incident on @bbc5live “Arm was around top of body yet Rodri fell forward not back as if he was pulled. Ref view was he felt contact, didn’t think he can he win header so went for pen. VAR looked at replays, what ref said was right so check complete.”

While he would have been frustrated with how the game went on Saturday, overall Rodri will be content with his start to life in English football and City fans will be impressed with what they've seen.

Going from a defensively-minded setup like the one used by Diego Simeone at Atletico to a possession-based blueprint like Guardiola's at City is a substantial tactical shift. Indications point to Rodri taking the methods of his new manager in his stride.