Pep Guardiola warns Man City players they have to prove themselves all over again next season

Matt Jones 18/05/2019
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Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City players they will have to prove themselves all over again next season.

The Premier League champions can complete an unprecedented domestic treble when they face Watford in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

But regardless of whether City can crown an outstanding season with victory at Wembley or not, the ever-demanding Guardiola says reputations will count for little next term.

The City boss said: “Every player has to feel, ‘I have to play good or I don’t play’. They have to feel, ‘I have to win again, if not I have problems, I’m in trouble, I cannot be longer here’.

“People say how beautiful it is but we have to win again and again and again and the players have to feel that.

“It was incredible but for the first day from next season we start from zero.”

Guardiola expects some changes to be made to the squad this summer. Signings will be made to freshen up the group and he accepts some players may wish to move on.

He said: “Some movements we have to do for the next season, yes, because people want to leave, players want to play.

“They accept not playing for a period but when the period is long it’s normal that they want to play more. I can’t assure that to anyone so I understand completely.”

Winger Leroy Sane was linked with Bayern Munich this week while Ilkay Gundogan now has just one year remaining on his contract. Guardiola remains hopeful both will agree new deals.

He said: “Leroy, we are one and a half years trying to sign his (new) contract. We want him. It’s like Gundogan – it’s the same case.”

Captain Vincent Kompany is out of contract this summer. Guardiola hopes to retain the services of the four-time Premier League winner but the 33-year-old’s future after the FA Cup final remains unclear.

He said: “We are going to speak after this game. Vinny has shown again when he is fit what he is able to do.”

City were in contention for a quadruple until being beaten in dramatic fashion by Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-finals last month.

Guardiola, however, doubts whether his team would have been able to hold off Liverpool in the Premier League if the result against Spurs had gone the other way.

He said: “Always I thought after going out to Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-finals, if we’d gone through would we have been able to beat Tottenham (again), go to Old Trafford, Burnley and win the points we needed to be champions against this Liverpool?

“Honestly, I don’t know if we would have been able.”

Guardiola understands some players, like Leroy Sane, might see their future elsewhere.

Guardiola understands some players, like Leroy Sane, might see their future elsewhere.

Guardiola won the Champions League twice with Barcelona and will fight again to win the prize with City next term.

He said: “Of course it’s our dream to do it but I have to improve, I have to see what I can do better to do it. As a manager I’m not good enough in this club to maintain it.

“We will work on I don’t know what because we tried to do our best, but the Champions League is difficult. It was not the same level as we’ve achieved in the other competitions.”

Guardiola remains keen to point out that City can still win a quadruple this season, as they won the Community Shield last August.

He said: “We can win it tomorrow – the ‘little’ quadruple. It’s a big chance for us.”

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Kevin De Bruyne feels no sympathy for Liverpool, claiming Man City were "just better"

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Kevin De Bruyne feels no sympathy for Liverpool after Manchester City narrowly pipped them to the Premier League title.

City won their last 14 games to beat the Reds by a single point in a compelling and high-quality title race.

Liverpool’s 97-point tally was the third-highest ever achieved in the competition but, while City’s Belgian playmaker acknowledges their effort, he cannot feel sorry for them.

De Bruyne said: “It’s a remarkable effort, but it means that we were just better than them in the end.

“I don’t feel sorry for them because I don’t think they’d feel sorry for us. I don’t think anybody felt sorry about the way we went out of the Champions League. You take it.

“I know how they feel because you’re going to feel disappointed. We’d feel the same if it happened to us.

“But we’re still competitors. It’s been a great battle. I can understand the feelings they have but to feel sorry for them is maybe going a little too far.”

Liverpool amassed the third-highest points total in Premier League history.

Liverpool amassed the third-highest points total in Premier League history.

For all City’s success this season, it has been a frustrating campaign for De Bruyne – their player of the season last year – due to a succession of injuries.

The 27-year-old featured just 18 times in the Premier League largely due to two separate knee injuries and a number of other problems.

He returned from his latest setback to feature off the bench as City won the title at Brighton last weekend. He now wants to end on a glorious high by helping them complete the treble in the FA Cup final against Watford on Saturday.

De Bruyne said: “It makes up for it in a way but obviously it’s not been the most fun season.

“It’s been one of those years where I started really badly with two big injuries. I came back in the right way but obviously, my body couldn’t cope with all the games.

“It’s good to be back with the team for the prizes, the Brighton game and now the final.”

De Bruyne did allow his frustration to show at one point this season when, during a comeback game against Burton in the Carabao Cup in January, he headed straight down the tunnel after being substituted.

City were leading 5-0 – and went on to win 9-0 – and manager Pep Guardiola wanted to protect the star but De Bruyne, who was making just his sixth start of the season, disagreed.

He admits he was told off for his reaction.

He said: “I shouldn’t really have left but sometimes emotions come up and at the time I thought it was a good game for me. It was already 5-0 so at that moment I was like, ‘I need the game time, I can still be important’.”

After celebrating their title success last weekend, City returned to training on Tuesday to prepare for Watford.

De Bruyne said: “The group is serious. You feel there’s now a little less tension than there has been in the last few weeks, obviously the main thing was the title, but everyone will be ready.”

Meanwhile, Raheem Sterling has attributed his fine form this season to a determination to repay Guardiola’s faith in him.

Sterling said: “He’s phenomenal, not only with me but with every player in the team. He gives everyone opportunities, he gives people chances and it’s down to you to repay that faith.

“The manager gives his all, he comes in every day and wants the best, not only from himself but from everyone else – the coaches, the staff, the chefs.

“He demands the best and everyone tries to give their best and that’s the best environment you can be in, to have a team full of winners.”

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FA Cup final talking points as Man City aim to secure domestic treble, against Watford

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Mentor: Guardiola (c) has had a great effect on Sterling and Sane.

Premier League champions Manchester City will take on Watford in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday.

Pep Guardiola’s side will be out to secure a clean sweep of all three domestic trophies when they face Javi Gracia’s well-drilled team.

Here, Press Association Sport’s Jim van Wijk takes a looks at some of the key talking points ahead of the showpiece fixture.

Treble up

The battle for the Premier League title proved to be the most exciting in years, as City held off the challenge of Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool to defend their crown following victory at Brighton on Sunday.

With the two other domestic trophies already in the bag, Pep Guardiola’s men are on the verge of an impressive clean sweep – which might just help ease the pain of their Champions League shortcomings.

However, as the history of the famous old knockout competition shows, take nothing for granted on FA Cup final day.

Deulofeu at the ready

Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu helped the Hornets produce a remarkable recovery to beat Wolves after extra-time in their semi-final, having been 2-0 down with just 11 minutes to go.

Sent on as a substitute just after the hour, the former Barcelona man produced a brilliant chip to reduce the deficit.

After captain Troy Deeney had equalised from a penalty deep into added time, Deulofeu then completed the turnaround with another composed finish following a swift counter to make it 3-2.

Gracia’s admitted the forward had been “angry” to find himself starting on the bench – and such is the impact Deulofeu can have, City might just be hoping he has used up all of his frustration in helping get the Hornets back to Wembley for the final.

Sterling effort

City’s England forward Raheem Sterling has enjoyed a stand-out campaign for both club and country.

The 24-year-old was named the Professional footballers’ Association Young Player of the Year and then voted as the 2019 footballer of the Year by the football Writers’ Association.

Sterling converted the decisive spot-kick as City beat Chelsea on penalties to win the Carabao Cup final in February.

His 17 Premier League goals helped Guardiola’s side secure the title – and another at Wembley could just seal a domestic treble.

Farewell Heurelho

Veteran Brazilian goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes is expected to make his final Watford appearance at Wembley, having started all five of the FA Cup ties.

Hornets’ fans might just be praying for some divine intervention to aid the 38-year-old former Tottenham stopper, likely to be playing one last game before hanging up his gloves.

His regular first-team opportunities now limited, Gomes has been contemplating retirement for a while – but will not have to worry about what the future might hold.

“I am prepared,” Gomes said. “I got a call-up from God to be a pastor, so maybe this can happen.”

Remember Ben Watson

Should City need any warning of just what can happen when overwhelming favourites run out at Wembley for the FA Cup final, then a quick clip of Watson’s late header for Wigan in 2013 should provide plenty of food for thought.

Roberto Mancini’s men were expected to make light work of a Wigan side who had spent the whole season battling against relegation and eventually went down.

Nothing, though, went according to script as the Latics – who had been led onto the pitch by owner Dave Whelan, a man with his own 1960 FA Cup final story to tell – produced a major upset.

After Pablo Zabaleta had been shown a second yellow card during the closing stages, Wigan eventually made their extra man count in stoppage time when Watson, who had not long recovered from a broken leg, headed home a corner at the near post.

Mancini was sacked a couple of days later, while Championship-bound Wigan went on to play in Europe.

Copy provided by Press Association Sport

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