Pep Guardiola would not risk Man City's successes for shot at winning Champions League

Press Association Sport 08:25 04/08/2019
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Pep Guardiola insists he would not risk any of Manchester City‘s successes for a shot at winning the Champions League.

The City boss, who won Europe’s top club prize twice as manager of Barcelona, denies that seeing Liverpool take the continental crown last season took the gloss off his own side’s domestic treble.

“No, no way,” said the Spaniard. “Why can we not share the glory?

“We would like to win the Champions League – big respect to Liverpool, winning the Champions League is so difficult, so, so complicated. That’s why winning the Champions League gets all credit.

“But why is it higher than what we have done over 11 months?

“The Champions League is an important tournament but I don’t want to gamble everything I have in my pocket for seven games. I don’t want it.

City meet Champions League winners Liverpool in the curtain-raiser for the Premier League season.

City meet Champions League winners Liverpool in the curtain-raiser for the Premier League season.

“I think I want to be happy during 11 months. It makes me happy, the Premier League, every game. When I win, the days after I am happier. I go to the restaurants better, I feel better, I work better with my players.

“Am I going to wait until February to play seven games with everything on black colour? From my point of view, it’s too risky.”

Guardiola is confident Liverpool, Premier League runners-up to City last season and still without a domestic championship since 1990, would agree with him on the importance of winning the home title.

He said: “I’m pretty sure Liverpool would have liked to win the last Premier League, (after) 30 years not winning the Premier League.

“It is incredibly good what they have done in the Champions League but I think winning the Premier League is really good. They were just one point behind but we were better by one point.

“Both teams were fantastic last season. Why do you have to say this team is better than the other one? Both were good.”

Guardiola believes his players have perhaps not got due recognition for last season’s achievements.

City were the first side ever to win all three domestic trophies but when the shortlist for FIFA Best men’s player of the year was announced this week, no City players were included.

Liverpool had three names on the 10-man shortlist in Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah and Virgil Van Dijk. Van Dijk was also last season’s PFA Player of the Year.

Guardiola, who was nominated in the best coach category, said: “I’m not going to say the 10 guys nominated for this award don’t deserve it but, for example, our players for the Premier League trophies we had five or six nominated.

“So I was a little bit surprised, because they were incredible. We won four titles and we were not able to be, even once, there.

“Maybe because for this award it is seven games – eighth-finals, quarter-finals, semi-finals and final. When you win the Champions League, you will be there.

“In the other 10 or 11 months they don’t care for these kind of awards.”

Guardiola, speaking at a press conference ahead of the Community Shield against Liverpool, then joked about the levels City would have to reach to earn nominations.

He said: “Maybe we have to win five or six titles or get 250 points to be considered to be there next season. We are going to try.”

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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola plans to be nicer to his players this season

Press Association Sport 12:59 03/08/2019
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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola plans to be nicer to his players this season.

Guardiola admits he drove his squad hard at the start of the last campaign out of fear they could get complacent after their record-breaking 2017-18 Premier League title win.

But after they responded by winning an unprecedented domestic treble, Guardiola has no doubt his players will be ready to go again this term.

“I will be nicer this season,” Guardiola said. “They’ve convinced me, these players, with what they have done last season. There is no doubts.

“If they are not able to do it, it will be because opponents were better or we are not good enough.

“At the end of last season I didn’t know how we’d handle our success but it was incredible what they did after 100 points. The target is to keep improving.”

City’s new campaign begins on Sunday when they face Liverpool, the Champions League winners, in the Community Shield at Wembley.

Guardiola accepts his team may not quite be able to hit the ground running after a pre-season in which he has not had all of his players available due to international commitments.

He said: “I think the pre-season starts really now. The next four games in August we have one game a week.

“Now we start to fix what we believe we have to fix and we will see during the month if we are in a good way or a bad way, if we have to train more in that section or less in that section. We will try to win games during that period.”

City and Liverpool played out a memorable title race last season, with Guardiola’s men eventually coming out on top by one point after winning their last 14 games.

City will go into the new campaign as favourites but Guardiola insists the past matters little now.

He said: “We won almost every trophy – it was quite remarkable. Not enough to have our players in the best players of Europe, but it was quite good.

“So now we start pre-season and talk about what we have to do and the players know it, so it is easier for our job.

“But we start from zero, we start again. Our rivals will be stronger, all of them, but we are ready to accept the challenge to be there until the end.”

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Fit-again Claudio Bravo has not given up hope on Manchester City career

Press Association Sport 09:42 03/08/2019
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Claudio Bravo is hoping to reboot his Manchester City career this season.

The Chilean goalkeeper missed most of City’s treble-winning campaign last term after rupturing an Achilles tendon.

Now fit again, the 36-year-old is set to start in the Community Shield clash against Liverpool on Sunday.

Bravo played throughout City’s pre-season tour of Asia as regular first choice Ederson was enjoying a delayed summer break following international commitments.

Bravo said: “To me, this season could be a fresh start. After such a complex injury, the best way is start again from zero.

“I always want to be present, whether that is on the pitch or off the pitch. I want to contribute to the team. I’m a very competitive person and I always set high expectations for myself.”

Bravo, who lost his place in the City side to Ederson after the Brazilian’s arrival in 2017, would most likely have been playing back-up last term even if he had been fit.

He does not begrudge Ederson for that but is determined to grab any opportunity to play that he can.

He said: “I don’t think there is a team in the world where there isn’t competition inside the squad. I think football players have this competitive gene.

“Ederson has been performing amazingly since he arrived, but he is also aware that I’m behind him putting pressure on him.

“I’m aware that when I haven’t had the chance to play, my role is to support him, to help him and to give him advice.

“But I never lose the competitive gene and the hunger to keep training, playing and fighting for trophies. I always want to be there.”

Even if he is not playing, Bravo feels he can still bring much to the team. His injury robbed City of experienced cover in an important position last season and he believes he has a key role to play on the bench.

He said: “If I am not playing, I must be supporting the team from outside. I’m an experienced goalkeeper, so I totally understand what being a team player means.

“I suffered a really serious injury, but I was always willing to be there, to help the team, to play again.”

Bravo believes his mental strength helped him through a difficult year.

“I have always been a very positive person, I have always believed a lot in myself and I always trust myself,” he said.

“When you put a lot of effort into your job, you dedicate yourself to it, you look after yourself and you have the help of great professionals around you – I never experienced thoughts of missing out. Quite the opposite. I was calm all along.

“That is why I managed to finish the last month of last season training normally and now I’m back to the team and competing as I used to.”

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