Tuesday 17 October 2017

Pep Guardiola refuses to compromise City's approach despite disappointing season

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side face Leicester on Saturday
Pep Guardiola's Manchester City side face Leicester on Saturday

Pep Guardiola accepts Manchester City's season will be seen as a failure but will not compromise his approach in search of Premier League titles.

City will end the campaign without a trophy for only the third time since 2009-10 and realistically can finish no higher than third in the table.

Given all the expectation that accompanied Guardiola's arrival from Bayern Munich, and the fact they started the season with 10 victories in a row, what followed has inevitably been met with disappointment.

Guardiola said: "If you judge me for the titles we achieve or not, it was not a good season. It's simple like that.

"I've learned a lot. I'm so satisfied for many, many things we have done but it's not enough. We're here to win titles, all the six teams are here fighting for the Champions League qualification.

"Most of them have history and tradition and a good team, good managers to win the titles, but just one can win. Congratulations to Chelsea and the other teams. Manchester United is going to win titles and we aren't going to win titles."

City face Leicester on Saturday knowing that if they win all of their three remaining games they will definitely finish third and qualify directly for the Champions League.

It will be an achievement to take into next season, if not the one City fans had hoped for.

Speaking on Sky Sports on Monday, former Manchester United defender Gary Neville said it would "defy logic" if Guardiola managed to win the Premier League by sticking to his favoured formula.

But the former Barcelona and Bayern boss sent a strong message that he is not about to make his team more physical.

Guardiola said: "Gary Neville played in England, he didn't play in other countries so he cannot compare. It's physical yes because the way the referees conduct games you have to be more physical.

"Football is football everywhere and the more quality you have, the stronger mentality you have, the more chances to win the games. The only power I have is the team is going to play the way I want to play.

"Of course I would like to have physical, strong teams, good at headers, fast. I like that, but since the first time I arrived here, and hopefully I will stay here a long time, the team is going to play the way I want to play. I'm not going to dismiss that way.

"I like high pressing, I want to improve the second balls, I want to make a good build-up, I want to play quick as much as possible, but at the end it depends on the quality of the players.

"We are going to try to adapt the philosophy of the club, with the players we have and to buy the players we need to play in that way. That is what we are looking for.

"How can I convince my players to play another way that I don't feel? The players are so intelligent, they know you are lying to them. When I am sitting there also I am a fan, I want to enjoy seeing my team playing."

Playmaker David Silva backed the progress being made by Guardiola and believes next season will bring greater rewards.

He said: "Next season we need to fight for everything, for all the trophies. This season, it's been our first contact, the change of an idea.

"The team understands the ideas clearer now and next season we will go all out. We need to win. We have clear ideas now and I'm sure there will be other players coming that will help us to achieve our goals."

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