Wednesday 21 August 2019

Guardiola works on two plans for 'crazy' finale

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola has admitted Manchester City could be in store for a "crazy" finale tomorrow that evokes memories of the club's dramatic first Premier League title success seven years ago.

But the City manager has urged his players to hold their nerve and keep calm if they do run into trouble against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

City famously trailed 2-1 to Queens Park Rangers on the final day of the 2011-12 season, only to score twice in stoppage time through Edin Dzeko and Sergio Aguero to win 3-2 and clinch the title on goal difference from Manchester United.

Guardiola is hoping it will be a more straightforward affair against the out-of-sorts Brighton as City bid to win a fourth title in eight seasons and extend Liverpool's wait for the championship to a 30th year - but recognises his players may have to improvise on the south coast.

"We must be strong mentally, knowing it will be tough - it's how we react if we have bad moments," Guardiola said.

"We have to focus on how we want to play and not worry too much [about the rest].

"If the game is running into problems, be calm and think about what you have to do. You may have to go crazy in the last five, 10, 15 minutes, but before that we have a plan and must follow the plan to win the game.

"Experience [of winning the title] is important, but it's only one [factor].The most incredible moment in the history of this club was when Sergio scored that goal, but everyone has to contribute."

Guardiola said he had been working on two game plans with his players - one in the event Brighton opt to park the bus and another should Chris Hughton's side, now safe from relegation, adopt a more attacking approach.

Kevin De Bruyne has trained for the past two days and, according to Guardiola, could be involved following a hamstring injury, but fellow midfielder Fernandinho is unavailable.

"We've talked about the options - if they play like they did recently so defensively, using set-pieces, long balls, the counter-attack with [Anthony] Knockaert and [Solly] March, the build-up with the two central defenders," said the City manager, who claimed he would be paying little attention to events at Anfield.

"But maybe at home in the last game they decide to go more forward. We have talked about how we handle both situations." (©Daily Telegraph, London)

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