Tuesday 18 June 2019

'I am on his side, the managers - we are alone' - Pep Guardiola offers sympathy to Jose Mourinho over sack

Pep Guardiola, left, and Jose Mourinho share a word or two on the touchline (Martin Rickett/PA)
Pep Guardiola, left, and Jose Mourinho share a word or two on the touchline (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola insisted he stands with Jose Mourinho after Manchester United sacked his rival.

The Etihad chief continued his success after seeing his Carabao Cup holders squeeze into the last four at Leicester on Tuesday.

City won 3-1 on penalties following a 1-1 draw at the King Power Stadium.

But Guardiola offered words of comfort to Mourinho, who he faced while at City and Barcelona when the Portuguese was at Real Madrid, after he was dismissed at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

He said: "I am on his side, the managers - we are alone. They contract us to try to win, when we don't win I know what happens.

"I know exactly what they can feel. Always I am there because we feel very alone, all the pressure is on our shoulders.

"He has a lot of experience, he is a tough man, he is coming back soon and we are going to play again."

Guardiola remained in the hunt for a quadruple this season as Oleksandr Zincheko scored the decisive penalty after Arijanet Muric saved from James Maddison and Caglar Soyuncu.

Christian Fuchs missed for Leicester and Raheem Sterling was embarrassed after he chipped his spot-kick over, although Gabriel Jesus and Ilkay Gundogan scored for City.

Kevin De Bruyne opened the scoring in the first half only for Marc Albrighton's 73rd-minute leveller to send it to penalties.

Guardiola said: "We got to the final last season and won so we played to win the game. It was quite similar to last season. The end was the same and last season Claudio (Bravo) was exceptional and this year it was Arijanet.

"I don't know how the legs will be sustained for the rest of the season but it's better to be in the semi final than to be out.

"Aro is so big, his reaction is so quick and he took the right decisions. It's good experience for him. He is a young guy, he is so shy, it's a nice moment. He deserve the big applause."

It was a repeat of last season's shoot-out defeat for Leicester as Claude Puel's gamble to drop Jamie Vardy ahead of Saturday's trip to Chelsea backfired.

But the Frenchman insisted he had no regrets not including Vardy after his recent groin injury.

Puel said: "I hope we can have him on Saturday. He wasn't fit enough for today. He trained once and then played 90 minutes in the Premier League (at Crystal Palace).

"It was important to keep him fresh and be careful about another injury.

"If we look at the starting players it's all experienced players and talented players. I'm happy with their performance, it was a complete game.

"It's important because we have a good squad and it's important when we play games every three games I want my team to play with the right intensity.

"We cannot have a debate about the penalties. My players took the responsibility. Remember the example of last season when we also lost on penalties. Who missed the penalties then? It was (Riyad) Mahrez and Vardy."

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