Kyle Walker fires home winner for Manchester City against boyhood club Sheffield United

Defender marks 100th Premier League appearance for club with fine goal, as manager Guardiola insists he will not be returning to Barcelona

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If Manchester City were centurions last season, Kyle Walker brought up a different kind of hundred with the clinical touch his team-mates were missing.

City were in triple figures for league goals in both 2017-18 and 2019-20. Walker marked his 100th league appearance for them with the lone strike to mean he was the one Blade who could savour Sheffield United’s sixth defeat in seven league games.

It is safe to say Walker, who was on United’s books from the age of seven, dreamed of scoring for them. If that ambition was never realised, he has found their net for both Aston Villa and City instead.

Often the former champions’ best defender, he doubled up as an effective attacker with a 25-yard drive that nestled in Aaron Ramsdale’s net. “A fabulous finish,” said Chris Wilder.

Walker made for an unlikely match-winner, which normally would be something to savour. Not this time. "My mum and dad live here, so if I’d celebrated I’d have got a lot of stick,” he explained. Guardiola added: “He's a Sheffield United fan, he loves this club, but it was an important the goal."

Guardiola, famously, is a Barcelona supporter but while Joan Laporta and Victor Font, two of the candidates to become their next president, are tipped to try and take him back to the Nou Camp, he has insisted he is not interested.

Ronald Koeman is a former team-mate and room-mate and Guardiola said: “My career as a manager in Barcelona is over,” he insisted. “There are incredible people who can be in charge. Ronald Koeman is an incredible manager. It's over.”

He was more concerned with his current charges. “We struggled to score goals from the chances we created:16 shots, eight on target. Nine goals from six games is not good enough,” said Guardiola. It made Walker’s input invaluable. His first strike for 363 days was a welcome bonus.

“We want to score three or four,” added Walker. They could have done. Indeed, Ferran Torres could have had a hat-trick of his own. Shorn of a specialist striker, Guardiola continued with the Spaniard deputising for the injured Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus. The summer signing is a winger by trade but rose like to a career centre-forward to meet Bernardo Silva’s cross with a glancing header that Ramsdale saved well. He made a striker’s run to the near post to meet Raheem Sterling’s centre. Ramsdal

e was again equal to his effort. He showed the speed to spring United’s offside trap but the goalkeeper closed down the angle and held his attempted chip.

There were other near-misses. Aymeric Laporte connected sweetly with Kevin de Bruyne’s corner but his half-volley rebounded back off the advertising hoardings. Ramsdale seemed to misjudge Rodri’s rising drive but nevertheless managed to tip it over the bar.

The goalkeeper, however, made a terrific save to turn Riyad Mahrez’s free kick past the post. City were relentless as they applied pressure. De Bruyne, inevitably, was at the heart of much of what they did, bringing a characteristic blend of drive and quality. He thumped a shot narrowly wide.

“Kevin de Bruyne, Laporte and Kyle Walker are unbelievable players,” said Wilder. He was more critical of his own team. “When you can’t pass from A to B, good players keep the ball away from you,” he said. “Sometimes it is not enough to be an aggressive, competitive side that has a go. You have got to show more to stay in this division.”

United had few clear opportunities; “one clear chance,” said Guardiola. It fell substitute John Lundstram’s way. The midfielder’s finishing made him one of last season surprise success stories. He ought to have opened his account for the current campaign when Sander Berge picked him out, but Lundstram skied his shot and United’s wait for a top-flight goal against City, which dates back to 1993, goes on.

They only have one point from their last 10 league games and this represents their joint worst start to a top-flight season.