Monday 19 March 2018

Pep Guardiola: I will convince City to play the Barca way

Pep Guardiola Picture: Reuters
Pep Guardiola Picture: Reuters

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola has warned Manchester City supporters that he is "not good enough" to work miracles overnight as the club's new manager admitted he faces the "biggest challenge" of his career.

But the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach believes the competition provided by a new band of elite managers in the Premier League next season - from nemesis Jose Mourinho at Manchester United to Antonio Conte at Chelsea - will help him to "reach another level".

And while he offered Joe Hart and Raheem Sterling some reassurance in the wake of their calamitous showings for England at Euro 2016, Guardiola insisted it would be down to the goalkeeper and forward respectively to prove their quality.

He described Hart as his No 1 "for the moment" and added that captain Vincent Kompany would only be of use if the defender proves his fitness after another injury-ravaged campaign while cleverly sidestepping questions about midfielder Yaya Toure's future at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola won 21 trophies during seven years at Barcelona and Bayern but he sought to temper expectations among those City fans who believe the club have appointed some sort of Messiah by acknowledging English football was a venture into the unknown for him.

"To come to the country who created football and believe you have to change something would be a little bit presumptuous," he said. "I'm not good enough to change everything."

Guardiola added: "To change the mentality of a club of 120 years would be presumptuous.

"I trust a lot in myself. I think I am able to do the job but I don't come here to think I can change the mentality or the culture of England.

"I think at every stage I've had a big challenge. It could be the biggest because City haven't won as many titles as Barca or Bayern.

Read More: Pep keen to test his philosophy in December chill

"I am here to try to think in the same way (as at Barcelona and Bayern). We are going to play that way because we were able to convince them that is the best way. It won't be easy. We need time but we don't have time.

"People don't expect to see in January and February how good we are, they expect to see in the first friendly game against Bayern Munich (this month) how good Pep is.

"I was lucky to train Barcelona and Bayern Munich with these amazing players and we won a lot of titles in a short time. The expectations now are the same. We will try.

"I don't need two months to know here will be completely different. When I see a guy who played here, like Xabi Alonso, I'm like, 'Tell me about England, tell me about the Premier League'.

Read More: Sterling gets vote of confidence

"I never found one person who said, 'Oh, it will be easy for you'. They all said it's tough. I don't know why. That's what I want to discover. The big clubs go wherever, they're soft (in a game) and they are able to lose. I have to discover that for myself."


Guardiola's relationship with Mourinho turned toxic in Spain as rivals at Barca and Real Madrid. But the Catalan said he would have dinner with his United counterpart down the line and insisted Mourinho's presence and that of an array of other top managers in England would bring out the best in him.

"He (Mourinho) wants to win, I want to win, we know each other pretty well from before at Barcelona," Guardiola said.

"I think it (going out for dinner with Mourinho) will happen naturally. One day I will arrive and he will be there. It will be, 'Hi, how are you? He will say 'hi' as well.

"It's great that top managers are here. Big managers take me as a manager to a different level. Competing with them takes me to another level, they push you to win things like the Champions League.

"I think Jose said pretty well in his press conference (on Tuesday) - it's not about him or about me. If we are focused on each other, the other team is going to win.

"I will improve myself, I'm pretty sure of that. The big coaches - Jose is one them - help me reach another level.

"Antonio Conte is a master tactician - I think he's a great signing for Chelsea. It's going to be very interesting competing against him, Claudio Ranieri Ronald Koeman.

"It would've been comfortable to stay where I was but I feel that it is the right moment to come here and prove myself." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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