Every word of Guardiola’s press conference ahead of the Premier League trip to Everton
Manchester City enter a decisive week, still alive in three competitions but no time to think between now and when their season culminates with the FA Cup final – an all-Manchester affair, on 3 June. With the treble still on, Pep Guardiola won’t have many opportunities to rest key players over the next three weeks. On Sunday, City visit Goodison and require a win to remain at the top of the Premier League standings as they are neck and neck with Arsenal.
That game was set back a day due to the Eurovision Song Contest final taking place in Liverpool which stretches police resources in the city to the point where it is simply impossible to host two major events on the same day. It means that City will have three days to prepare for the return leg against Real Madrid – not ideal, as Guardiola admitted in Friday’s press conference.
You have mentioned that playing Everton at Goodison will be a very tricky game for City…
It’s between Champions League games. During my six seasons here, playing at Goodison Park has always been so difficult, because of the environment, Sean Dyche’s sides are always front-foot teams. The end of the season is really final so we are just focusing is on this game.
How much will Wednesday’s game against Madrid impact your thinking?
“My thought is just Everton. No more than that. So it’s 11 months working for the Premier League, and I don’t to be distracted by the Madrid game – we don’t have time, well, not much time because we play Sunday – thank you so much… but anyway, it’s a real, real priority, the game at Goodison Park”.
𝘖𝘩𝘩𝘩 𝘒𝘦𝘷𝘪𝘯 𝘋𝘦 𝘉𝘳𝘶𝘺𝘯𝘦 👑
A special angle of a special strike in Madrid! 🙌 pic.twitter.com/kd1ucg6qpo
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 11, 2023
Everton and Real Madrid are two very different opponents, will that require a different mentality?
“We play for all competitions – you have to switch and you have to adapt. You know there are four games left in the Premier League and it’s really, really important to us to be there, to keep our destiny or whatever we are playing for in our hands. We have today and tomorrow to train to prepare as well as possible, because the way they play is special and you have to adapt as good as possible.
Does Everton’s win against Brighton the other night change anything for them?
They have quality in the team to be in this position, and Brighton is one of the toughest places to go. The result was a real impact. At the same time, we know exactly what we are playing for. We have to analyse what we have to do to beat them.
How dangerous are they at the moment? I don’t anybody in football saw the win over Brighton coming…
“In the last big results in the Premier League, the teams have been playing for something special. So it will be tough. Of course, these results can happen in football – everything can happen in football. You had a goal in the first minute, Brighton have had some incredible results – against Wolves and United. They were surprised by the two early goals and Everton’s physicality and defensive structure. They’re a good team and anything can happen in a football game”.
This might be your last chance to visit Goodison, do you enjoy going there?
“Yes, I like typical, British stadiums, I like it”.
How frustrating is the calendar for you?
“I don’t understand it, but I don’t want to fight it anymore. We have to adapt, it doesn’t matter. I won’t fight anymore about the schedules – it is what it is. It’s not frustrating it is what it is, how many times can we comment on that?
Every player is ready. Every player is ready to give a contribution. I was deliberating whether to make a substitution in the last minutes at the Bernabéu, and I decided that the players on the bench, who have a social dynamic… but at that moment, we didn’t need that. It would have increased the rhythm on the rest of the team. But now everyone is important because we have a lot of games and I think they’re all ready to make their own contribution”.
.@KevinDeBruyne has been nominated for both the #UCL Player and Goal of the Week awards! 🌟
Vote below! 👇
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 11, 2023
Do you think LaLiga helps their teams who are in European competition with accommodating fixtures?
“Listen, I’m pretty sure that LaLiga and the Premier League want to help the teams. I don’t think they want to make things uncomfortable, the problem is the schedule – that’s what gives the competitions this amount of games. That’s the problem. I think we could not play on Saturday because there is Eurovision or something like that in Liverpool and there is not enough police to stage two important events at the same time so… okay, you have to adapt. What can I do? We would have preferred to play on Saturday, to prepare, definitely. It’s not going to change. I try to look at it in a positive way, okay so we have one less day to recover, but after Sunday, we have one less Premier League, and that’s good too, that’s my mindset”.
Manchester City’s remaining fixtures in 2022/23
*If they qualify
.@ErlingHaaland‘s record-breaking first season at City has seen him named as the 2023 Football Writers’ Association Footballer of the Year! 👇
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 12, 2023
Erling Haaland, Premier League Player of the Month, Football Writers’ Player of the Year… what a great accolade in his first season?
“I think it’s wonderful! Congratulations to him, of course”.
Are you surprised? Because a lot of people say, players need two seasons to settle in… How has he adapted to you so quickly?
“I don’t know. Sometimes it just clicks quicker, and that’s what happened with him. Everything’s good, he runs well…
How is Nathan Ake, is he fit?
“I think he’s much better but I don’t know. Today, finally we had a day off and now we have training in a few hours and we will see”.
How is Haaland? He’s played the full 90 minutes of the last five games
“It’s the end of the season. Everything’s under control up here (points to head). I watch him in training and see his body language. He had a really, really intense game in Madrid. I couldn’t have rested him just in case he was tired. He’s fine, he’s fine”.
Do you think you can get to the end of the Premier League season without making five, six, seven changes for one game?
“I did it twice maybe so you know… Normally I make substitutions, so I will try to make sure everyone’s involved.
We’ll see. We have five days now after that just three, then four days. Now we will see the team and afterwards, we’ll speak with the physios and the staff and decide but of course, we have a lot of games to choose, not to choose because maybe the people don’t believe me but I rely on all of them a lot but there are players in certain moments that are so so important to us and we’ll see what happens, if they can play every single, three or four days. What happened against Leeds, people asked if I’m tired. That game was so demanding, like Goodison and Madrid as well… so, it’s a lot of game. When you play so many competitions it’s normal. We’ve had games in hand in the past that we have to play now. When you just play one competition it’s completely different but now, okay, it is what it is”.
Does it get harder to leave players out?
“Definitely but not just now all the season. They want to play all the games. They want to play in September, they don’t like me when they don’t play. For sure, now there are important games, they want to be involved, and it’s good. The end of the season? For sure we are going to play until the 3rd of next month. You have to deserve to win a game to play for one more week. We have six games, potentially seven, so it’s not too much, just two or three weeks until the end of the season – go for it!”
It must be draining for the players, have they got enough energy to face the challenges that lie ahead?
“I think winning helps. If you win, mental recovery is quicker and better. We’re still alive… I have always believed that human beings have incredible resources to move forward and keep going. When you believe, ‘I am exhausted, I cannot any more’, you can. You can. As long as you are still in competitions. The moment you get knocked out of a competition, then yes, there’s no energy, you have to refresh for next season and get back again. You can be tired, that’s normal. I’ve said many times to my players, you’re tired, I know! It’s normal for them to be tired. But at the same time, if your mental desire is in the right position, the human being can have incredible energy – energy that you don’t even imagine you have”.
Did you expect Arsenal bounce back after losing to City?
“Definitely they are going to win the three games they have left. So we know what we have to do to win the Premier League! I would like them to drops points to be honest, but I think, with a whole week to prepare, they will get nine points”.