EPL

Guardiola confident Man City won't suffer United's post-Ferguson blues

By Sports Desk March 06, 2021

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are primed to continue their success after he leaves the Etihad Stadium.

City host United in the Manchester derby on Sunday, aiming to extend both a 14-point lead over their rivals at the top of the table and a record-breaking run of 21 consecutive wins in all competitions.

Should the runaway leaders win their third Premier League crown in four seasons, Guardiola will become the first manager in England's top flight to regain the title during the same tenure since Alex Ferguson and only the third to do so in the competition's history.

Both United since Ferguson and Arsenal in the aftermath of Arsene Wenger's two-decade reign have struggled to keep pace with the standards of old.

Guardiola renewed his City contract until 2023 earlier this season, which will take him to seven years in charge in east Manchester if he sees out those terms – at which point his club might face a similarly testing new era.

"The club must not start saying 'Pep is not here anymore'. There is no time to wait… a new one has to do it. It's the same for the players," he said, even though City's outstanding run has come during a season many earmarked as one of transition.

Ruben Dias, Rodri and Joao Cancelo are on course to win their first Premier League titles having established themselves as key pillars of Guardiola's side, while John Stones and Ilkay Gundogan have assumed new levels of prominence within the City squad.

As Sergio Aguero and Fernandinho approach the end of their contracts in June, the last remaining trace of pre-Guardiola City could be no more when the senior squad reconvenes for next season.

Pablo Zabaleta, Yaya Toure, Vincent Kompany and David Silva bade emotional farewells over the past four years and Guardiola believes there is a pattern of smooth succession already established at City.

"We've replaced David, Pablo Zabaleta, Vincent Kompany, even Joe Hart. I know their influence in the locker room and the spirit for Manchester City," he said, before suggesting the step change from mid-table club to Abu Dhabi-financed heavyweight a decade ago was more challenging than anything yet to come.

"These players are special, they started to create the club that we are," Guardiola continued.

"To be a team from the middle of the table [who then] fight for the titles, you need some special players. Incredible respect, I admire them, all of them. They create this situation that we have right now.

"For people who came later, it's time to follow the legacy that they started. We would love to have Vincent Kompany eternally, but the age is the age. Unfortunately, you have to replace them."

Champions League success remains the final frontier for Guardiola, with City poised to address the quarter-final hurdle that has felled them in the past three seasons as they hold a 2-0 advantage over Borussia Monchengladbach midway through their last-16 tie.

But Guardiola feels consistently reaching Europe's top competition, even in fallow years in terms of trophies, is a key marker of City's progress when set against the struggles experienced by Leicester City, Chelsea and now Liverpool in the immediate aftermath of lifting the Premier League.

"The nicest thing of this club in the last decade is every year we won the title, the next season we were there. The lowest position after winning was second," he said.

"The last years it was always champion, champion, second, fighting after winning, every year in the Champions League. That is when you become a club that is respected.

"You see other champions, how they fight to qualify for the top four.

"People say it just about the reason everybody knows [money], but it's okay. There is a lot of work behind it."

That work has changed for Guardiola this season, with the particular demands of a life in lockdown persuading him to temper his famously intense approach – perhaps a template to apply when a measure of normality returns to what is already his longest stint at a single club.

"We have fewer meetings [with the players]. Maybe this is the reason why we are winning, because I don’t bother them much," he added

"[I demand] not much and then the energy the moment of the game. I cannot demand, with this situation around the world, energy for 10 hours.

"The players are like you and me. It is weird the world we are living. You cannot go out, you cannot see other people.

"That is why – energy, the moment of the game. We did it and we are going to continue doing it this way."

Related items

  • Simeone: Atletico 'left their soul out there' in remarkable comeback win Simeone: Atletico 'left their soul out there' in remarkable comeback win

    Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone lavished praise on his side for their fighting performance after netting two stoppage-time goals to win 3-2 over Valencia on Saturday.

    Simeone's side appeared destined for a third consecutive defeat in all competitions after Yunus Musah and Hugo Duro had put the visitors two goals up at the interval.

    Matheus Cunha reduced the deficit in the 64th minute, before added-time strikes from Angel Correa and Mario Hermoso secured a remarkable victory.

    “At half time I spoke to the players, I told them what I felt and I have transmitted in recent years, 'if we have to lose we lose with pride'," Simeone told reporters.

    “The team left their soul out there, they left their lives on the pitch. There are nights that remain with you and this one is going to stay with us."

    He added: "It was a fantastic second half. We were ourselves. Watching that second half, I felt: this is us."

    Atleti had collected just four points from the previous 18 available in LaLiga, with the win boosting their lagging top-four aspirations.

    Simeone was almost reduced to tears on the touchline after Hermoso's winner as the Spanish champions firmed up fourth spot, three points clear of fifth-placed Real Sociedad.

    "What did I feel? That it's marvellous, this place I'm in," Simeone said. "Whenever it feels like it might be going, I want to hold on even tighter. In the first half, my heart hurt."

    The result saw Atletico become just the second LaLiga team in the 21st century to come from behind to win a game with two goals in added time, after Betis did so – also against Valencia - in December 2011.

  • Manchester City boss Guardiola reaches 500 Premier League points in record time Manchester City boss Guardiola reaches 500 Premier League points in record time

    Pep Guardiola became the fastest manager in Premier League history to accrue 500 points with Manchester City's 1-1 draw against Southampton on Saturday.

    The Catalan coach, who first took charge of City in August 2016, reached the milestone figure in 213 matches – 18 fewer than previous quickest Jose Mourinho.

    Jurgen Klopp is next on the list having reached 500 points in 236 games with Liverpool, while legendary Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson needed 242 matches to do so.

    Arsene Wenger (249 games) completes the top five, with Rafael Benitez (267), David Moyes (340), Martin O'Neill (351), Mark Hughes (367), Sam Allardyce (386), Harry Redknapp (392) and Steve Bruce (441) also members of the 500 club.

    City have taken more points against Arsenal (34) than any other opponent under Guardiola, followed by Burnley, West Ham (both 31), Leicester City and Watford (both 27).

    Reigning Premier League champions City have put together four runs of 12-plus victories in the competition in Guardiola's five-and-a-half-year tenure, the most recent of which came to an end with their draw against Southampton.

    The Citizens dropped points for the first time in 13 matches in a run stretching back to a 2-0 home loss against Crystal Palace on October 30, leaving them 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool having played two games more.

    Kyle Walker-Peters fired Southampton into an early lead with a sensational outside-of-the-boot strike – just the third first-half goal City have conceded in the league this term – but the visitors hit back through Aymeric Laporte's header.

    Despite his side's losing run coming to an end, Guardiola was pleased with their display at St Mary's Stadium.

    "We played really well. Unfortunately, in the first half we conceded a goal, but I think this was one of our best performances of the season, by far," he told Sky Sports.

    "They were incredibly organised and this is one of the best performances we played against them. Yes, the result was not good, but in terms of performance and the way we played, it was excellent.

    "We played better than in the Arsenal game, when we won, and today we drew. Sometimes you deserve it and you don't win, but the way we played here was excellent.

    "Southampton are a really good team. They are organised, they play 4-4-2, long balls, good pace in counter-attack, good build up. But we were brilliant today.

    "Why should we lose belief in what we have done? It was a good performance. We are going to drop points, but the way we behave is very good."

    Liverpool could move to within six points of City should they win their games in hand, while the sides still have to meet at the Etihad Stadium in April.

    "People will say the Premier League race is not over and that is good for this side," Guardiola added. "We have many tough games ahead of us, but we will try to behave until the end.

    "I would like to have a 40-point lead ahead of Liverpool, but that is not possible in January. I didn't expect to have this lead, but now we will rest and come back as best as possible."

  • Liverpool's Salah and Mane face off for World Cup spot after African qualifying draw Liverpool's Salah and Mane face off for World Cup spot after African qualifying draw

    Liverpool forwards Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane will do battle for a place at the 2022 Qatar World Cup after their nations were drawn together in African qualifying.

    Salah and Mane, who are both currently at the Africa Cup of Nations, have been an integral part of Liverpool's success over the past few years, and are considered to be two of the world's best forwards.

    However, just one of them will be at the World Cup later this year after Salah's Egypt were paired with Mane's Senegal in the African qualifying play-off round.

    The remaining 10 teams in African qualifying will face off in two-legged play-offs for the continent's five spots at the tournament.

    Algeria will play Cameroon, Nigeria were paired with Ghana, while Morocco have been drawn against DR Congo.

    The final tie will see Tunisia face Mali, with all fixtures taking place in March.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.