- Colin Cranmer
"I love myself a lot" - Pep Guardiola pre Chelsea Press Conference
After reaching the Champions League final against Real Madrid, Pep Guardiola previews the game where Manchester City could win the Premier League title, against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium this Sunday. The boss spoke on several topics, including the prospect of winning a third title in a row, his exchange with Kevin De Bruyne, the mentality, changes, and much more...
The game after the game before:
"Calmed down? It's non stop. Of course we are satisfied to play the Champions League final. It's non-stop, now is coming the most difficult thing. Tennis players say to serve to win Wimbledon is the most difficult one. On Sunday, the game is in our ands to win the most important competition. It's ten/eleven months, every week. We're lucky to have the chance to win at home with our people. We have to take it."
Title winning memories?
"I have good memories. When we play United, 2-0 up at half-time and lose the game. Aston Villa, 20 mins from losing the game. Emotions are many things. We cannot be distracted. We will not forgive ourselves. Focus on every single game until the end of the season to finish well."
City used to the pressure:
"We have done it many times, we cannot deny, Champions League semi-final, the best team in this competitions. They have done eleven semi-finals in thirteen years. Do it against them gives us confidence and credit. We have done it against Arsenal, Liverpool, United, the big teams at home. We feel we are strong, confident with our people."
It's not a 'one man' team:
"As a manager, I feel part of something, I'm not confused - I never think it belongs to [just] me - I'm part of that, we cannot deny: without the incredible decisions of the sporting director, board, the players are the most important thing. Being close to win it again, in our hands; after last weekend, I'm really pleased. I'm not the only person when we lose semi-finals or finals, not only [me who is] responsible."
Kevin De Bruyne vs Pep Guardiola?
"The action with Kevin I love it, we shout each other and I love it. Sometimes it's a little bit flat, I like this energy. It's not the first time, you don't see, but he shouts at me in training. This is what we need. After that he becomes the best. Gundo lost the ball, Kevin too, we didn't need that in the game. At half-time we spoke about controlling the game, drop them and turn them. We didn't do it. Kevin stays calm and makes an incredible assist. Jack did the opposite, he could run but helps the team and joins the passes. It's football, we can do it. These things must happen to be competitive."
Most important Premier League win this year?
"No. We cannot deny the titles versus Liverpool were easier. Not at all. The top six were closer. Newcastle are one game away from Champions League, I saw them against Brighton, to see how good they played. Newcastle deserve to be there. There are more clubs, I cannot say this one was more difficult or easier. Always, so difficult."
Mentality has not changed:
"They show many times [their mentality], we [only] talk about mentality because we won. I don't believe [it's different], I defend the team when we lose. Last year we didn't have mentality against Madrid? We have the same mentality. To recover eight points, Arsenal first we have a game in hand, it was fake. We knew we had to win the game and they drop. If Arsenal maintain the rhythm of the first half of the season, it wouldn't be possible. They drop points and we were there. It means a lot to us."
Tactics have to change:
"Sometimes the team evolves depending on the opponents and their problems they create. You cannot play seven years the same way, because one: you have different players; we used to have a false nine now we play with Erling, and two: defenders don't play the same way because they know you, they discover secrets. They do a counter system you have to create another one."
"Now Liverpool play with Alexander-Arnold inside, played all the time outside, now inside. Opponents found a solution to them attacking, now they [Liverpool] find a solution. Maybe opponents find a solution to Trent inside. I'd love to say we played the same way all the time, but it didn't happen. Not the same players, not because it's something new, you have to realise [you have to change] because of the opponents."
"When you are in one season, you can't play a season the level we play today [for the entire season]. Don't be far away from the top of the league, don't give up, and wait; arrive in knockout stages at the end in a good moment. We didn't change much, the way we play in Southampton in the Carabao Cup was the lowest game in seven years. You have to avoid the opponents, it's normal - try to be as stable as possible, otherwise we cannot be 85 points with nine still to play, close to 90 again, if you are not consistent."
Did Pep think the title could be won with games to spare?
"After seeing Arsenal in the first half of the season: no. We had to be hopeful we arrive against Arsenal at home to beat them and be close to the top. They won [against Newcastle], lost to Brighton, we are eleven games winning, winning. Helps us to be there. At the end, people felt two months left, three months left if we don't win [every game] we cannot fight for the Premier League. That gives us the best of us."
Do City get he praise they deserve?
"Yes, absolutely. People know how difficult it is. Opponents, managers know. To win the Premier League, we are close, it's not done. They [the players] know it."
"I love myself a lot, but I never thought [we could do what we have done]. I love myself a lot, I thought we would do a good job, but expectations - I arrive with no expectations, do whatever you want. I could not imagine, with players and people here, to do what we have done in the Premier League. I realise after five/six/seven games in the Premier League, how tough it is. Learn quick, players and teams. Every day was a little better, try to arrive a little better. Do better than yesterday, the players feel it and we can achieve it."
"You never think at the start of the season how it's going to be - now we know, three games away to win all the titles. Now we [have to] prepare and arrive as best as possible to these games. Every game we win helps for the next one. Winning the Premier League as quick as possible helps the next games, the FA Cup and Champions League. I want to see the team still focussed. The biggest compliments when you win, disaster when you lose. We cannot forget the reality. The reality is United, Aston Villa. Chelsea didn't do the season they could imagine. But it's Chelsea [next], the players are there, I'm not confused with the table. Perform like the last weeks, we will be there. Can celebrate something unique, at home not away. Football is emotions, if we can do it at home we have to do it."
Watching Forest vs Arsenal?
"I don't think. Maybe we do a breakfast [tomorrow]. I don't think so because we have a game the day after. Chelsea deserve it [our full attention]. In my mind, I'd like to feel we have to win to be champions and that's what we need to think, we can not control Nottingham. It does not matter what happens in Nottingham we have do our job, win our game. I don't have it [champagne on ice], because three days later we have Brighton and Brighton can be a big thing if you're not yourself. We have time at the end of the season to celebrate. Tomorrow we can win, celebrate in the stadium with our people."
Written by: @colgeogcra
Some quotes as quoted by Manchester Evening News and Manchester City.
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