Pep Guardiola spoke to the media ahead of West Ham's visit to the Etihad for the Sunday 2 pm kick-off with in-person press conferences returning at the City Football Academy. The boss spoke on the availability of Phil Foden and Jack Grealish, Raheem Sterling's return to goalscoring form, Kevin De Bruyne's wellbeing, playing with and without a striker, and much more.
Firstly, Pep on Champions League qualification and West Ham:
"It’s a different competition. We are incredibly happy and delighted to be in the last 16 of the Champions League and at this part of the season to be not far from the top of the Premier League. It's difficult to get through the group stage and now it allows us to focus on the league.
"We are out of the Carabao Cup so we focus on the league until January. We know what the Premier League means. The four English teams are in the last 16 and did an incredible group stage, all of them. We know which teams we are going to face.
"I had the feeling as a manager that before the game I never count what we did before will happen tomorrow. It is a new opponent. I would like to predict we are going to win an incredible run of games, but it is impossible.
"I don’t know what's going to happen, not even against West Ham at 2 pm on Sunday. I want us to be consistent, playing our level. We lost on penalties to West Ham, we know what we have to do. Our performance will dictate how we are."
Pep on the fitness of Jack Grealish and Phil Foden:
"They are training individually. They are much better. Especially Phil. Right now they are on a day off and in the morning we will see how they feel. We will not take risks but hopefully, they come back soon."
Pep on player unhappiness:
"They are unhappy [when they don't play]. It's the sixth season, they know me, we know them it's not a problem. They're nice guys, there's a line and they don't cross them. We have to keep the environment like this. I understand completely, I was a football player, but at the same time, this season everyone is going to play. Aleks hasn't played for a while, but last game he played incredibly well in a new position [for City, but not new for the Ukrainian national team]. This is not a problem."
Pep on Kevin De Bruyne:
"He is feeling better now. A little bit tired, no taste. Symptoms you have [with coronavirus]. It is around seven or eight days so a few more days ahead of him to make a PCR test and if negative he will be back."
Pep on Raheem Sterling:
"I am so glad for him. He helps us that's for sure. He will fight to be better and better. It is important for the strikers and wingers to score a lot of goals and get assists. He was decisive."
"You have highs and lows, it's important that the lows aren't too low. They want to perform well, we won Premier League. At the same time, relax. It doesn't depend on individual [success] it's the team, be on the pitch when the manager gives you the opportunity to do your best. Raheem and everyone, that's all. When you see players bad that's a problem - it's not the case. Just look how we fight and win games."
Pep on player confidence with regards to Sterling:
"With this crazy calendar, they don’t have time to rest. The English guys got to the Euro final, they had two or three weeks, came back again, Community Shield. You cannot imagine how difficult it is for the players every three days. It is so demanding. So, you have to come back to the basics. Sometimes you help the team with the defensive work and step by step you come back. When one player doesn't play good, I don’t doubt they have the skills. Do the basics and step by step you will come back."
Pep on differences playing with a striker and without:
"We can play good with a striker as well. If the striker drops to take the ball, you are playing without a striker in that moment. Against Everton, Cole Palmer played like a false striker and in that moment we realised we needed a movement in behind. If Bernardo plays up front, he is a striker. At the same time, we need players who can play with a certain rhythm."
Pep on his wingers:
"We attack with the wingers wide, I like that, I love it. I don't know why, but I do. I have liked it since I was a boy. Jack at Aston Villa had a little bit more freedom [but played wide] – Raz, Riyad we like to play with the players playing in that position."
Written by: @NA1907_
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