Saturday 18 November 2017

Guardiola promises 'hugs and kicks up the backside'

Guardiola "I proved myself in Catalonia and I proved myself in Germany and now I want to prove myself in England.” Photo: Reuters / Craig Brough

Chris Bascombe

Pep Guardiola ushered in a new era at Manchester City promising "hugs and kicks up the backside" as his new club welcomed the manager they believe will make them a global superpower.

Manchester is bracing itself for the opening salvos in the battles of the superstar coaches, with Guardiola's unveiling coming 48 hours before rival Jose Mourinho's formal introduction at Old Trafford.

City believe they have appointed the world's number one, but despite arriving in England with a staggering 22 major trophies, the 45-year-old former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager claimed he was moving to the Etihad with something to prove.

"That is why I am here. For the challenge. I proved myself in Catalonia and I proved myself in Germany and now I want to prove myself in England," said Guardiola.

"With my staff and players, we want to try and make Manchester City play in a way to make people proud. Then we will see our level.

"At the end what I want is for our people and supporters - and people who love football - to enjoy and be proud of what we did. I can't do that alone."

Guardiola greeted City fans for the first time at Manchester City's Academy in what was the most choreographed unveiling of a manager English football has witnessed.

His appointment was billed as "the next phase of Manchester City's history" as questions were invited from supporters in the culmination of two days of fan-orientated club events - a more orthodox press conference will he held later in the week.


The greatest applause was reserved when the Spaniard offered in insight into his style.

"First I have to meet the players and know them - not from TV - and speak with them, hug them and kick their arse," he said, to appreciative applause.

"Every manager in the world wants to improve their players that is how to improve the team.

"I work like all managers. I have my point of view and how I want to see my team play but I need time.

"In the world we don't have time so we will try to create a good team as soon as possible.

"Our body language at first is the most important thing and then the rest will come along.

"Play good. After one game win another one. Team spirit and playing good and then winning the first game and the next one.

"I know the players. I played against Manchester City many times and I know their quality, but they have to show me again. The past is the past. People do not come here to remember what we did but to try again.

"I want them to be a good team-mate. I like players who think about themselves but also about Manchester City. The reason we are here is to think what we can do to make this a better club. Not what the club can do for them. We want a better club."

Guardiola has already added two new signings - Ilkay Gundogan and Nolito - but, despite City's ability to outbid any club in the world, he ruled out reuniting with Lionel Messi.

"He is not a bad player this guy, but I'm sorry Messi has to stay in Barcelona for the rest of his career," said Guardiola.

With Mourinho at Manchester United, Guardiola is aware the cult of personality will dominate this season's title race.

However, he was keen to ensure the focus is on the pitch rather than dugout, but that may prove a forlorn hope.

"In England the most important thing in football. The people don't come to see who the manager is - they come to see how good our players are," he said.

"I don't think just this season. In the past as well, there are good managers with Klopp, with Conte, with Ranieri, Mourinho Pochettino, Koeman. But the reason I work here is just to help the players.

"One of my dreams was to play here like a football player and now it comes true as a manager. I come here to learn. I was always curious to know what it is like in England," added Guardiola, who has signed a three- year deal with City, believed to be worth £45m.

Meanwhile, Mikel Arteta has become the second of Arsène Wenger's former captains to join Manchester City after agreeing a coaching role under Guardiola, with whom he played at Barcelona.

Wenger is understood to have offered Arteta a position in the Arsenal academy, and there was also a potential role for him with Mauricio Pochettino at Tottenham Hotspur, but the chance to learn from Guardiola proved irresistible.

"I've enjoyed an amazing five years at Arsenal and it's been an honour and a privilege to captain such a great club," said Arteta.

(© Daily Telegraph, London)

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