Pep Guardiola vows to stay and fight for Manchester City even if European ban is upheld
Manager spoke for first time on Uefa punishment after 2-0 win against West Ham
Pep Guardiola has insisted he will stay and fight for Manchester City, even if their two-year ban from European football is upheld.
After his team's 2-0 win over West Ham, Guardiola spoke publicly for the first time since Uefa issued the ban and a £24.9 million (Dh118.2m) fine for "aggravated breaches" of Financial Fair Play regulations on Friday.
Speculation over the future of Guardiola and the club's star players followed, but the Catalan said he and his squad wanted to fight for the club and their supporters.
"When someone believes he is right, he is going to fight to the end and that is what we are going to do," he said.
"It is an incredible thing to fight for our people who support this club and we are going to do it. As a club, a team, we are going to do it."
Speaking on Sky Sports immediately after the final whistle, Guardiola insisted the only way he would leave the club before his contract expired in 2021 was if he were sacked.
"If they don't sack me, and that can happen, I will stay here 100 per cent, more than ever," he said. "Why should I leave when I said before a month ago, I love this club, I like to be here.
"I am optimistic in the end it will finish well. We will speak with the players and the next three months we still have focus on what we have to do and see.
"Personally, no matter what happens, I will be here next season. We are optimistic that at the end the truth will prevail and next season we will be in the Champions League."
The club have issued a strong response to Uefa's ruling. A statement on Friday described the adjudicatory process as "prejudiced" and confirmed City would return to the Court of Arbitration for Sport.
On Wednesday, chief executive Ferran Soriano said in a video that the allegations were "simply not true".
Guardiola's relationships with Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain date back to their days together at Barcelona, and he said his trust in the club's board was complete.
"I spoke with the club, with my chairman [Emirati Khaldoon Al Mubarak] and CEO, and I follow," he said. "I believe in them."
Asked if he had requested to see what the club says is "irrefutable evidence" that Uefa's allegations are false, Guardiola said: "It is so sensitive with the legal situation that I am not the person to talk about that.
"I support the club 100 per cent. I trust what they told me and that is what I can say."
City showed no lack of fight on the pitch, with Rodri and Kevin De Bruyne both scoring.
Although the 2-0 scoreline was far from overwhelming against a side stuck in the bottom three and now winless in seven, City enjoyed almost 80 per cent possession, had 20 shots at goal and saw Rodri complete more passes than West Ham's entire team.
It was a much-needed result in the context not only of the week City have had, but also defeats suffered against Manchester United and Tottenham before the winter break.
"After the winter break, after 12 days, after what has happened, it's always a question how we are going to react but the team is incredible," Guardiola said.
For West Ham, a fifth defeat in seven games keeps them in the relegation zone, one point from safety. But David Moyes was not too downbeat.
"I thought we were really well organised defensively," he said. "I think the structure we set up tonight was to try and make it difficult for Manchester City.
"The quality they have, very few teams will come here and be open. We did a decent job but not enough to get something."
Updated: February 20, 2020 09:44 AM