Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 August 2019

Pep Guardiola to Manchester City players: 'In one week, we can lose all three titles'

Manager wary of quadruple talk ahead of make-or-break clashes in Premier League, Uefa Champions League and FA Cup

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, left, wants his players take each game as it comes. Alastair Grant / AP Photo
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, left, wants his players take each game as it comes. Alastair Grant / AP Photo

Pep Guardiola has told Manchester City to forget about the quadruple after warning that they could suffer fatal blows to their hopes of winning three trophies in a week.

City have already lifted the League Cup and can return to the top of the Premier League when they host Cardiff on Wednesday night before Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Brighton and visiting Tottenham hotspur on Tuesday the first leg of their Uefa Champions League quarter-final.

But Guardiola suggested their ambitions in each competition could be torpedoed in the space of seven days as he dismissed talk of the quadruple.

“I said to the players 'forget about it'," he explained. “In one week, we can lose all three titles. That’s the reality. I know in your heads we can win all the titles, but for now it’s Cardiff, then four or five days in London to prepare for Brighton or Tottenham.”

Victory against Neil Warnock’s relegation-threatened side will take City to 80 points which, as Guardiola noted, is more than Manchester United’s final total in their greatest season 20 years ago as he outlined the difficulties of becoming the first team in English history to secure all four pieces of silverware.

“Legendary teams like Liverpool, the [United] period with Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, Arsene Wenger with Arsenal - no one did it,” he said. “So why should we do it?

"We can’t forget that even the team that won the treble with Sir Alex Ferguson, an incredible team in 98/99, won the league with 79 points.”

Guardiola noted that the margins were narrow in all three competitions where United prevailed.

“One point difference in the league, that semi-final of the [FA] Cup against Arsenal, Dennis Bergkamp missed a penalty, red card for Roy Keane and the chances Bayern [Munich] had [in the Champions League final] - hitting the crossbar two times - and then with the last two corners United scored.

"The spirit, the desire to win the treble and of course the quality of everybody at United means they did it but it shows how difficult it is.”

Jurgen Klopp conceded after Liverpool’s 90th-minute winner against Tottenham that luck was a prerequisite for title-winning teams and opposing goalkeepers, including Jordan Pickford, Julian Speroni and Hugo Lloris, have made several errors at Anfield but Guardiola argued the leaders have not been fortunate.

“If it happens three or four times, maybe it is because they have something special,” he said. “I am pretty sure Pickford wants to save that ball and Lloris wants to save that ball but mistakes are part of football. I am not wasting my time thinking ‘they were lucky here or there’.”

Sergio Aguero will miss the Cardiff with a muscle injury as City wait to discover if he will be fit to return against Brighton.

It means Gabriel Jesus will make his first league start since January 14. The Brazilian has only scored once in his last seven City appearances but Guardiola argued Aguero’s prolific return has made it tougher for his striking rival.

He explained: “It is not easy to play in this club, in the position as Sergio. Gabriel fights against one legend, an incredible player, as the best season with Sergio is this one.”

Guardiola was less impressed with Benjamin Mendy, who pictured in a nightclub at 3.30am on Saturday. The left-back was not in the squad for Saturday’s win at Fulham after being limited to 11 appearances in an injury-hit season.

“They are old enough to know what they have to do,” Guardiola said. “I’m not his father. I would prefer him to go home earlier but I don’t control the players in that situation.”

Updated: April 3, 2019 10:35 AM

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