"I wouldn't change one single player..." – Pep Guardiola pre Southampton Press Conference
Pep Guardiola faced the media ahead of Manchester City's visit to the south coast to face Ralph Hasenhuttl's Southampton side in the FA Cup quarter-finals. The boss discussed the Champions League quarter-final draw, Liverpool closing the gap, and Erling Haaland among other things.
Earlier today, the Premier League champions were drawn against Diego Simeone's Atletico Madrid side, with the first leg to be played at the Etihad on Tuesday 5th April and the second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday 13th April – both games to kick-off at 20:00 (BST). Should the Blues advance into the semi-finals, they will face either Real Madrid or Chelsea, with the first leg at the Etihad.
Pep on the Champions League draw/Atleti:
"I understand the question, the FA Cup will be so sad that you [journalist] do not respect the oldest competition in history! What could I say? They went through an incredibly tough group stage and the game against United over 180 minutes they were better, the game in Madrid fantastic first half. They are able to avoid who you are, the biggest quality, for the way you play you try to impose your game but it's difficult. Second leg away, more complicated. But the best eight teams in Europe, all are difficult."
Pep on a possible semi-final against Chelsea:
"Lots of work against Atletico to think about the next stage."
Pep on Atleti being Diego Simeone's club:
"When this happens you have an incredible achievement as a club, institution. That club, Simeone won't be sacked, all the players know who is the manager. If it doesn't work, no manager can sustain a team like Atletico."
Pep on being opposite to Simeone:
"I don't understand his matches because I wasn't in his training. If he likes to not concede goals, I like more than him. If he wants to win games, I like it more. I like counter attacks more than him. I like a lot of things, would like to do what they are able to do.
"We try to do it with the ball, they are sometimes a bit deeper. The first 15-20 minutes against United, United couldn't breathe. After they use the quality [they have]... I'm not saying there is a comparison, they play to win and we do. We try, knowing it will be difficult to impose our game against them. We have to be clever, we know they will have it, have the chances to score. It doesn't matter if we play another opponent, it would be difficult too. We go to a nice stadium, incredible stadium and we go to try and reach the semi-final, hopefully, they are worried to play against us."
Pep on Liverpool closing the gap:
"I couldn't say I couldn't expect it. We drop points lately but we play to win the games. Against Tottenham we played to not lose but the way we defend the last action we deserved to. It is what it is. 14, 15 days, we come back after the international break, 9 games. Everyone knows what we do, marvellous challenge. We try to do it."
Pep on whether it's hard to motivate his players for the FA Cup:
"How do you ask me when these six years we play every game like it's the last game of our lives? I know how difficult it will be away at Southampton. I'm sorry, I trust a lot my team, my players. I know it looks like everything is gone but I trust a lot my players to arrive in every competition. I want to do it with these players, I wouldn't change one single player for the next two months."
Pep on Kyle Walker's England omission with right-backs pulling out of the England squad:
"It's difficult for me to say about the national teams. I respect the guys. Kyle is incredibly important for us, for the success in the past and the future. He will be back in the national team. I don't know what has happened [with the other right-backs]. Gareth talked with Kyle and the reasons why [wanting to see the other right-backs as we all know what Walker is about]."
Pep on Erling Haaland speculation and needing a striker:
"Since I'm here, every month we are going to sign 50 players. Right now, it's impossible I'm going to talk about some guys who aren't here. Haaland is a Dortmund player. You can ask for this player or another one. The transfer window is going to start and many things will happen.
"Maybe I speak about this club needs a striker for the next 5, 6, 7 years maybe once in 12 months. I'm not going to be the guy with the success because we didn't have a striker. It's important that if you play good, seven or eight players arrive in the box. This is the best way. Right now we are ahead to try and go Wembley for the semi-finals, in the last eight in Europe, and top of the Premier League. What we have done so far is great. We play this game, pray the players come back from the national team with no injuries. We've fought a lot to be there."
Pep on what he's learnt about his team over the past month:
"Not much. I know my team quite well after six years. If we win or lose, I don't learn. The good points we have, the weak points to improve. From the emotion inside, second half at Palace we were anxious we wouldn't win and play like we don't play. At Goodison Park, how we celebrate the goals against United I know the desire in the team. I try to tell them, it's not possible to control the emotion sometimes, they are human beings. Sometimes it's difficult. Against United, I said be calm, they want to punish on the counter, so be calm. I got messages about the derby, no, be calm. Otherwise, we are not good."
Pep on the FA Cup being the best chance for a trophy:
"In the Premier League, we are winning. Right now, destiny is in our hands. We are closer for games in the FA Cup, I don't count the competitions. I know how difficult it will be at Southampton. Prepare to travel good, play well, and enjoy."
Pep on if there's a need to do anything differently:
"We do what we have done so far. Get in the six-yard box and score a goal. Southampton will be different to Crystal Palace. Before, trying to be that they know every game is a final, Premier League, Champions League, Sunday, be ourselves."
Pep on United's trophy drought despite similar spending to City:
"I would love to give you an opinion on United but I'm not there. I don't know why. The respect I have for United, the tradition, what they did under the previous manager, the players they have. The reason why I would say is because the contenders are good too. Last season they were second and fought until the last 3 or 4. Other contenders made their standards higher. I don't know, I'm not there. I said many times what we have done in the last years is remarkable. Being there, right now, of course, we want to win and fight every game. We went out on penalties to West Ham. In football, it's important [about] the consistency to be there. It's not easy to do it.
"It's not about comparing, I'm not there and don't know why. United under Ferguson winning titles spent more, then Chelsea. It's not an exception. There are exceptions because football is so nice. Sometimes teams don't deserve but are able to do it but football is the best for that. Generally, invest more than other clubs because they take better players. Better players but the difference in this club is a strategy for many years in one way. We lose? This is the way. If we don't win titles this season, the club won't move differently. The dream word is consistency. Every game we are there. I'm talking about this club, not other ones."
Pep on trebles and quadruples:
"If United did it, another team can do it. To break a record is because someone has done it. When it happens, I think it will. It's not easy, but you can do it. In September, October it's more difficult. Two months left, yeah it can be done. But it happened once in a lifetime."
Written by: @NA1907_
Certain quotes as quoted by Manchester Evening News.
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