Manchester City Land Bournemouth’s Ake For £40 Million

A file photo of Bournemouth defender, Nathan Ake
A file photo of Bournemouth defender, Nathan Ake

 

 

Manchester City on Wednesday announced the signing of Bournemouth defender Nathan Ake on a five-year deal — the second new arrival at the Etihad in the summer transfer window.

Pep Guardiola’s dethroned Premier League champions agreed a £40 million ($52 million) fee for the Netherlands centre-back, rising to a potential £41 million.

The signing comes a day after the club announced they had landed Spain Under-21s winger Ferran Torres from Valencia.

“City has been the best side in England over the course of the last decade,” Ake, 25, said in a club statement.

“Coming here is a dream for me. This is a top side full of world-class players. Everywhere you look in this squad there are big names with international pedigree.”

City director of football Txiki Begiristain said: “Nathan is a quality defender.

“He was a leader during his time at Bournemouth and I am so pleased we’ve managed to bring him here. He’s strong and quick, and we feel he has the technical and intellectual attributes needed to excel in Pep’s set-up.”

City finished 18 points behind Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, who were crowned champions in June after a three-month hiatus due to the coronavirus.

Guardiola’s team lost nine matches during the season, showing the need for a rebuild at the back.

A knee ligament injury to Aymeric Laporte early in the season hit City where they most lacked cover, in central defence, after failing to replace departed captain Vincent Kompany.

 

 

 

AFP

Three Things We Learned From The FA Cup Final

Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is mobbed by teammates after scoring his team’s second goal during the English FA Cup final football match between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on August 1, 2020. (Photo by Catherine Ivill / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Arsenal beat Chelsea 2-1 thanks to Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace in the FA Cup final on Saturday.

Let’s look at three things we learned from the Wembley clash:

Irreplacable Aubameyang

In what could be his last game for Arsenal, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang showed why the Gunners must do everything in their power to keep the Gabon forward.

The 31-year-old is out of contract at the end of next season and has been linked with a move amid reports he wants to play for a club in the Champions League.

Coach Mikel Arteta insists Aubameyang wants to stay, but he also conceded winning the FA Cup would be a useful way to show him the club are heading in the right direction.

Arsenal did their part and it was Aubameyang who provided the crucial cutting edge.

The first African player to start an FA Cup final as captain, Aubameyang became the second-oldest player to score for Arsenal in the showpiece.

With Arsenal trailing to Christian Pulisic’s early goal, Aubameyang’s blistering break left Cesar Azpilicueta trailing in his wake.

Azpilicueta responded by tugging at Aubameyang’s shoulder and the forward made the most of the contact as he tumbled in the area to win a penalty that he dispatched with ruthless efficiency.

Aubameyang won the German Cup with Borussia Dortmund in 2017, scoring the winning goal from the penalty spot.

Once again, he would be the star, but this time it was his skill and improvisation that proved decisive as he jinked past Kurt Zouma and clipped a fine finish over Willy Caballero in the 67th minute.

Chelsea hamstrung by Pulisic injury

Christian Pulisic had emerged as a key figure for Chelsea since the coronavirus hiatus, but a day that started on a high for the United States winger ended in agony.

It has been that kind of turbulent season for Pulisic, whose first year with Chelsea started slowly amid injuries and poor form before bursting into life.

He was on the scoresheet after just five minutes, with his 11th goal of the season.

Drifting into central midfield to take possession, Pulisic slipped a precise pass to Mason Mount and carried on his run into the Arsenal penalty area, where he took Olivier Giroud’s flick and slotted past Emiliano Martinez.

Pulisic was the first American to score in the FA Cup final but disaster struck in the 49th minute when he raced away for a shot that was interrupted when he felt his hamstring twang.

Immediately grabbing the injured area, Pulisic was helped off the pitch.

Without the pace of Pulisic to keep Arsenal’s defense on the back foot, Frank Lampard’s side was bereft of a cutting edge in the final third as the trophy slipped from their grasp.

Arteta bolsters growing reputation

Mikel Arteta enhanced his reputation as one of the Premier League’s brightest young managers with another tactical masterclass.

Having out-witted his mentor Pep Guardiola in Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final success against Manchester City, Arteta showed his acumen again to leave Chelsea boss Frank Lampard out of answers.

Arteta’s use of long passes into the channels behind Chelsea’s two attacking full-backs exposed the flaw in Lampard’s defensive system and led directly to Aubameyang’s equaliser.

Leading Arsenal to their 14th FA Cup success — which brings them a place in next season’s Europa League — showed the 38-year-old Spaniard is the man to restore the club’s tattered reputation.

Arsenal may have endured their lowest league finish for a quarter of a century this season as Arteta battled to steady the ship following Unai Emery’s sacking in December.

But he has won over his players with a direct approach to discipline — banishing malcontents Mesut Ozil and Matteo Guendouzi — and his astute game-plans.

Winning the FA Cup will buy Arteta time to continue his rebuild and it was fitting his first trophy as Arsenal manager came in the tournament that brought the last major silverware of Gunners legend Arsene Wenger’s reign.

 

 

-AFP

Arsenal Shock Man City To Reach Record 21st FA Cup Final

Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) leaps for the ball as Manchester City's French defender Benjamin Mendy (R) defends during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE
Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (L) leaps for the ball as Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (R) defends during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

 

 

Arsenal reached a record 21st FA Cup final as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s double clinched a shock 2-0 win over holders Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday.

Gunners boss Mikel Arteta outwitted City manager Pep Guardiola with an astute counter-attacking scheme and Aubameyang struck in each half as Arsenal executed the plan to perfection.

Arsenal will face Chelsea or Manchester United, who meet in the other semi-final on Sunday, in the final at Wembley on August 1.

 

Arsenal's Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta (R) embraces Arsenal's Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2R) at the end of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP) / NOT FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING USE / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE
Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta (R) embraces Arsenal’s Gabonese striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (2R) at the end of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

 

Arteta captained Arsenal to FA Cup triumph six years ago and, in his first season in charge of the north London club, the Spaniard has led them back to the final of a competition they last won in 2017.

Just days after beating Premier League champions Liverpool, Arsenal offered further evidence that Arteta could be the man to restore them to the glory days of the Arsene Wenger era.

Arteta had fired a warning shot to Arsenal’s board in midweek when he admitted he was concerned about his club’s ability to spend enough to turn them into title contenders.

 

Arsenal’s Scottish defender Kieran Tierney (C) and Arsenal’s Swiss midfielder Granit Xhaka (R) celebrates at the end of the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

 

On the evidence of the canny way he got one over on Guardiola, Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke would be wise to give the man he hired in December a chance to show what he can do with a rebuilt team.

Arsenal had lost their previous seven meetings with City, including a 3-0 drubbing in their first game after the coronavirus hiatus.

City were unbeaten in their past nine matches at Wembley but, thanks to Arteta’s masterstroke, Arsenal handed Guardiola’s side a first defeat there since the 2017 FA Cup semi-final against the Gunners.

With second place in the Premier League secured, City have to focus on the resumption of their Champions League challenge in August, when they defend a 2-1 first leg lead against Real Madrid in the last 16.

City bossed the early exchanges to such an extent that they had amassed 83 percent possession after 10 minutes.

 

Manchester City’s French defender Benjamin Mendy (L) chases Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (R) during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

 

But Arteta knows City well after his time as Guardiola’s assistant and he set out to exploit their weakness against counter attacks, using Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe to get behind City’s attacking full-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy.

 Rope-a-dope plan

Arsenal should have been ahead when David Luiz picked out Aubameyang, who wastefully shot straight at Ederson with only the keeper to beat.

It was a warning City failed to heed and Aubameyang made them pay in the 19th minute.

At the climax of an 18-pass move, Pepe’s deep cross caught Walker dozing and Aubameyang eluded him to slide a fine finish off the far post from a tight angle.

 

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender David Luiz (R) challenges Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (L) during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Arsenal and Manchester City at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 18, 2020. (Photo by MATTHEW CHILDS / POOL / AFP)

 

It was the kind of incisive, imaginative attack that City usually torment Arsenal with, but for once it was the men in red celebrating.

The Gabon striker’s 24th goal of the season was a reminder why Arsenal are so desperate to get him to sign a contract extension.

Urging Arsenal to “get the ball, get the ball” at every opportunity, Arteta’s intensity on the touchline was matched by his players.

City, unbeaten in their previous 22 domestic cup ties, were well short of their best.

Raheem Sterling wasted a golden opportunity to equalise when he shot wide from Kevin De Bruyne’s pass.

City finally tested Emiliano Martinez for the first time as Riyad Mahrez’s low strike forced an excellent one-handed stop from the Arsenal keeper.

De Bruyne’s free-kick curled just wide before VAR rejected Sterling’s penalty appeal after Mustafi appeared to trip the winger.

Defending deep, Arsenal were putting their bodies in the way of everything to keep City at bay.

Even Luiz, much maligned for a terrible display in Arsenal’s last meeting with City, was at the top of his game and Arteta’s rope-a-dope plan brought a rich reward in the 71st minute.

City left themselves open at the back and Aubameyang beat the offside trap as he accelerated onto Kieran Tierney’s sublime pass before slotting under Ederson.

 

 

AFP

Sane Wants To Leave City – Guardiola

Manchester City’s German midfielder Leroy Sane celebrates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, northwest England, on January 3, 2019.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Leroy Sane is heading for the Manchester City exit door after rejecting a new deal, manager Pep Guardiola said on Friday.

The Germany international has 12 months left on his contract and has been heavily linked with Bayern Munich, with the City boss acknowledging it is only a matter of time before Sane leaves.

“Leroy said he does not want to extend the contract next season so it means he wants to leave and it is going to happen this summer or at the end of the contract,” Guardiola said on a videoconference with reporters on Friday.

“The club told me they offered two or three times to extend his contract, he rejected, so he wants to play in another club.

“I think everybody knows if at the end of this season there is an agreement of both clubs, he is going to leave.”

Winger Sane, 24, has won the Premier League title twice at City since joining from Schalke in 2016.

However, he has not played for the first team since suffering a torn knee ligament in the Community Shield match against Liverpool in August.

“When we make an offer to a player it’s because we want him,” Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference.

“He has special quality. We want players who want to play with the club to achieve targets. He is a nice guy and I love him so much. I have nothing against — but he wants another adventure.”

Guardiola said that David Silva and Claudio Bravo would stay at the club until the end of the extended season, having initially been due to leave at the end of June.

City, second in the Premier League, face Burnley on Monday.

COVID-19: Manchester City Coach Pep Guardiola Loses Mother To Pandemic

FILES) In this file photo taken on April 17, 2019 Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the UEFA Champions League quarter final second leg football match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England. Anthony Devlin / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola’s 82-year-old mother has died after contracting coronavirus, Manchester City announced on Monday.

“The Manchester City family are devastated to report the death today of Pep’s mother Dolors Sala Carrio in Manresa, Barcelona, after contracting coronavirus,” the Premier League club said in a statement.

“Everyone associated with the club sends their most heartfelt sympathy at this most distressing time to Pep, his family and all their friends.”

Guardiola, 49, last month donated one million euros ($1 million) to buy medical supplies for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in his native Spain.

He also issued a video as part of the club’s Cityzens At Home initiative urging fans to stay at home.

Spain declared Monday a fourth consecutive drop in the number of coronavirus-related deaths, with 637 over the past 24 hours, the lowest number in nearly two weeks.

Fatalities, which were sharply down on the record 950 on Thursday, brought the total deaths in the country to 13,055, second only to Italy.

AFP

COVID-19: Manchester City Coach Guardiola Donates €1m

COVID-19: Manchester City Coach Guardiola Donates €1m
File: Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola holds a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 25, 2020, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match against Real Madrid CF. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP.

 

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has donated one million euros ($1.08 million) to help buy medical supplies for the fight against the coronavirus pandemic in his native Spain.

The former FC Barcelona boss gave the money to the Medical College of Barcelona to buy “medical equipment that is currently lacking in health centres in Catalonia,” the body said in a statement.

His donation will also be used to produce ventilators to treat patients and protective gear for health care workers in Guardiola’s northeastern region of Spain.

Meanwhile Barcelona’s Hospital Clinic said it had received a donation from FC Barcelona captain Lionel Messi to help it fight the virus.

“Thank you Leo, for your support and commitment,” the hospital added in a tweet.

While the hospital did not say how much money the player donated, Catalan sports daily Mundo Deportivo said it was one million euros.

With the pandemic spreading across the world, Spain has been one of the worst-hit countries, logging the third highest number of deaths with the latest toll standing at 2,696, and the total number of infections nearing 40,000.

AFP

Guardiola Wary Of Man United Recent Form Ahead Of Derby Clash

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline during the English FA Community Shield football match between Manchester City and Liverpool at Wembley Stadium in north London on August 4, 2019. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City will face the “best” Manchester United team of the season in Sunday’s derby as they prepare to go head-to-head for the fourth time this season.

The 3-0 win over Derby in the FA Cup on Thursday made it nine matches unbeaten across all competitions and 22 goals scored for United, although City are also in top form after five straight wins.

City boss Guardiola said Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was having a positive influence on his team.

“From what I’ve seen in videos of their games, the players follow him (Solskjaer),” he told his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“I saw the commitment they had and it’s getting better. Now it is their best moment of the season.”

United’s upturn has coincided with the arrival of Bruno Fernandes for an initial £47 million ($61 million) from Sporting Lisbon.

The Portugal international has made and scored goals and he has had a galvanising effect at the club.

“Sometimes the big players can make a good influence,” said Guardiola. “He is an exceptional player and that is why Man United bought him.”

 Away wins 

All three derbies so far this season have been won by the away side, with United twice victorious at the Etihad and City winning 3-1 at Old Trafford in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final.

But Guardiola has won all three of his league derbies at Old Trafford.

United were described by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp as defensive earlier in the season but that is not a view shared by the City boss.

“It doesn’t look like that from what I have seen,” he said. “I watched their recent games and they were incredibly aggressive and that will happen at Old Trafford.

“In some games they defended but I watched them at Goodison and they played a good game (the 1-1 draw at Everton last Sunday).”

The title has effectively gone for City, with Liverpool needing just four wins to wrap up the Premier League, while United, in fifth place, are embroiled in a battle for a Champions League spot.

Second-placed City are 15 points ahead of their cross-city rivals but Guardiola is not buying the theory that Sunday’s meeting matters more to United.

“When we believe it’s more important for them, we are going to lose,” he said.

“We have to have belief, that is so important. I’ve never played a game thinking about points or whether it is more or less comfortable. Every game we play, we try to win.”

Guardiola is hopeful that Kevin De Bruyne will be available to play at Old Trafford.

The Belgian injured his back in the League Cup final win over Aston Villa last week and did not feature in the FA Cup win at Sheffield Wednesday on Wednesday.

AFP

Man City Must Maintain ‘Big Club’ Mentality – Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola celebrates on the pitch after the English League Cup final football match between Aston Villa and Manchester City at Wembley stadium in London on March 1, 2020. – Manchester City won the game 2-1. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP)

 

Pep Guardiola urged his Manchester City squad to maintain their hunger for more trophies after picking up the eighth of his four-season reign with a third consecutive League Cup.

City have more cup success in sight as they travel to Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup fifth round on Wednesday and lead Real Madrid 2-1 after the first leg of their Champions League last 16 tie.

Guardiola has now won 29 trophies in his managerial career after similarly successful spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and he wants City to match the demands of those European giants going forward.

“I learnt in the big clubs I was at before, and in their history, when they win a trophy they go and take a shower, and they are thinking in that moment about the next one,” said Guardiola on Tuesday.

“It is so nice what we have done in that competition in the last three years but in this game we have another final.

“Away in the FA Cup is always difficult because of how important this competition is for the clubs in this country. We can go through to the quarter-finals and that is what we have to do.”

READ ALSO: Man City Retain League Cup After Aston Villa Win

The appointment of Guardiola has accelerated City’s rise to the top of the English game after Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini also won Premier League titles backed by the billions spent by the club’s Abu Dhabi-based owners.

Sunday’s success was City’s 11th major trophy since ending a 35-year wait for silverware by winning the 2011 FA Cup under Mancini.

“There is a lot of effort behind this,” added Guardiola. “The most important thing was the league when Roberto Mancini was here. It changed the mentality of the club.

“The first one is always the most difficult one and Roberto Mancini and his people and players did it, then other people came after them and continued the process.”

Injuries have helped halt City’s attempt at a third straight Premier League title as they trail runaway leaders Liverpool by 22 points.

Leroy Sane has missed most of the season due to a cruciate ligament injury suffered in the Community Shield in August.

The German winger is now back in training, but Guardiola will not rush him back to feature in midweek.

“He is not ready. (After) six months, (it) needs a process. When you start (back training) you feel good but still it is not (right), especially confidence,” said Guardiola.

“He is doing the normal steps to come back but maybe it will be easier to play in the Premier League, which we don’t have chance to win, than in this cup competition. We need to be incredibly focused all the way through.”

AFP

Landmark Man City Win In Madrid Vindicates Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola holds a press conference at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on February 25, 2020, on the eve of the UEFA Champions League football match against Real Madrid CF. JAVIER SORIANO / AFP.

 

Manchester City’s European ban means they are under enormous pressure to win the Champions League this season and they are one step closer after arguably their greatest result in the competition at Real Madrid.

Nothing is won yet, not even after City’s 2-1 victory in the first leg of the last-16 tie at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, as Pep Guardiola was keen to point out.

Real, who been European champions a record 13 times, have a history of dramatic comebacks

However, City’s first-ever victory against one of Europe’s traditional giants in the knockout stages of the Champions League was vindication for Guardiola.

“For us to win at the Bernabeu is a great satisfaction for us,” said the City boss. “It is incredible to be able to win here for us because we are not used to doing these things.

“We hope it will help us in the future to believe in ourselves and to be able to go to any stadium and play the way we have.”

Guardiola said earlier this week City’s two-year Champions League ban, pending appeal, imposed by UEFA for breaching financial fair play rules, would not act as a spur for his players.

But it was on the minds of travelling fans in the Spanish capital, who were singing against European football’s governing body from almost the first minute.

The Catalan is now the visiting coach with most victories at the Bernabeu, with six. But he would have been first in line for criticism had another surprise team selection gone wrong.

Guardiola has re-written the record books domestically in his four seasons in England, but has never progressed beyond the Champions League quarter-finals with City.
– Guardiola tactics –

The decision to leave Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling, Fernandinho and David Silva on the bench, push Gabriel Jesus into an unfamiliar role wide on the left and often leave the creative force of Kevin De Bruyne isolated up front could easily have backfired.

City were trailing 1-0 when Sterling was introduced from the bench 17 minutes from time.

The England attacker’s presence pushed Jesus and De Bruyne into more natural roles and within five minutes they combined as Jesus headed home the equaliser.

A Sterling burst then lured Dani Carvajal into an ill-timed lunge to concede a penalty. De Bruyne stepped up to convert and City could have put the tie to bed with more chances in the closing stages.

“It was arguably Sterling’s 17-minute cameo that turned the game, rising from the bench like a sharp stone from a catapult, aimed directly and devastatingly at Real’s defence, playing a part in both goals,” wrote The Times newspaper.

Guardiola succeeded in protecting a defence that has often been exposed in the Premier League, with Real restricted to three shots on target.

“This was the famous night for Manchester City when they took it to Real Madrid and stuck it to UEFA,” added The Times.

Guardiola, known for his obsessive attention to detail, has been accused of overthinking when the stakes are ramped up at the sharp end of the Champions League.

It is nine years since the second of his European Cup wins as coach of Barcelona but this time he could revel in how his detailed preparations paid off.

“We had 10 days off in England and in these 10 days I watched the maximum number of Madrid games I could. I make my decisions as a result of what they do,” said Guardiola.

“We decided to play without a striker for the way they defend. They defend so aggressive, man-to-man on the goal kicks, so high and when this happens you have to make the pitch wide.

“I’m pretty sure (Zinedine) Zidane and his people are going to look at what we have done and the second leg is going to be different.”

Guardiola will undoubtedly have his own plan and City still have much to do to finish the job.

But they will always have the Bernabeu win and it is for nights like this they fought so hard to bring Guardiola to Manchester in the first place.

AFP

Guardiola Confident Of Laporte’s Fitness For Madrid Clash

This file photo shows Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte on a stretcher following an injury he sustained. AFP

 

Pep Guardiola is confident Aymeric Laporte is ready to play 90 minutes against Real Madrid on Wednesday even though the defender asked to be substituted during Saturday’s 1-0 win at Leicester.

Laporte was replaced by Nicolas Otamendi after 57 minutes of Saturday’s match, his third appearance since his return from a long lay-off with a knee injury.

Guardiola said there was no fresh injury problem for the Frenchman but the pace of Leicester’s attack was a tough test for a player still rediscovering his rhythm.

“He asked me to be subbed,” Guardiola said. “He’s not injured. We cannot forget he has been out for four or five months injured. They run a lot, (Jamie) Vardy, Kelechi (Iheanacho), (Harvey) Barnes, they are all so fast.

“It was quite different against West Ham (on Wednesday), where there was only one striker so it was easier to control, but he’s OK.”

Asked if Laporte was ready to play the full match in the Champions League last-16 first-leg clash at the Bernabeu, Guardiola said: “Yes”.

Laporte has made a gradual return to action from the knee injury suffered against Brighton on August 31.

He played 78 minutes against Sheffield United on January 21 but then did not appear again until Wednesday’s 2-0 victory over West Ham, completing 65 minutes at the Etihad.

City have not conceded a goal while Laporte has been back in action and Guardiola will be keen to have his best defender on the pitch for as long as possible against Madrid.

AFP

Guardiola To ‘Remain’ As Man City Manager Despite Ban

FILES) In this file photo taken on April 17, 2019 Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the UEFA Champions League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north-west England. AFP

 

Pep Guardiola has told friends he is going to remain as manager of Manchester City even if the appeal against their two-year European football ban is rejected by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), according to media reports on Monday.

The 49-year-old Spaniard is said by The Times to have told both the City board and the players he will be staying despite the sanction and reported interest from Serie A champions Juventus.

Guardiola, who has been at City for four years, reportedly told the players of his intention at a meeting on Saturday.

“Look, whatever league we are in, I will still be here,” Guardiola told them according to Sky Sports News.

“Even if they put us in League Two, I will still be here. This is a time for sticking together.”

He is likely to confirm this at the press conference on Wednesday following the re-arranged Premier League match with West Ham.

The match on February 9 was postponed due to Storm Ciara.

The Sun claims the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager has told friends he is going to at least see out his contract with the club which runs until 2021.

He is old friends with City executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain and enjoys an amicable relationship with club chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak.

“He is not the kind of person whose first thought is to leave when things turn bad,” sources close to Guardiola told The Daily Telegraph.

According to those sources Guardiola — who was informed of the UEFA ruling prior to its official announcement when he returned from a break in Barcelona on Friday — is “calm” about the ban.

Guardiola has won two Premier League titles, an FA Cup, and twice lifted the League Cup since arriving at the Etihad Stadium in 2016.

  ‘Their own decisions’ 

As for the players, the Daily Mail says they will stay too, although the Telegraph state the opposite should the club lose the appeal.

England striker Raheem Sterling has been the subject of rumours surrounding a likely bid by Real Madrid — who City face in the Champions League last 16 later this month.

However, agent Aidy Ward, who has represented Sterling since he was at school, told the Daily Mail his client was focused on City and not any transfer speculation.

“Raheem is solely focused on Manchester City and will not be distracted by any talk of transfers at the moment,” said Ward.

The club, though, according to the Telegraph, will leave it up to the individuals once the decision on the appeal is delivered, which they believe will be in May.

“Everyone has been told they need to stay professional but also there is an understanding that they have their own decisions to make,” said the source.

City, though, remain confident they will emerge victoriously.

“Trust me as I trust you, this will be dropped,” Soriano is said by Sky to have told the players.

The players are said by a source close to them to be content with the account they have been given by City executives.

“Since this all started, they’ve all been told that City have done nothing wrong,” the source told Sky.

“That’s still the message, so nothing’s changed.”

UEFA announced the sanction on Friday, with European football’s governing body punishing City for what it said were “serious” financial fair-play breaches between 2012 and 2016.

City were also fined 30 million euros ($32.5 million).

The heavy sanctions relate to an alleged overstatement of sponsorship revenue in the club’s efforts to comply with financial fair-play rules.

AFP

City May Sack Me If I Don’t Beat Real, Says Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on December 7, 2019. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said he could be sacked if he fails to beat Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Guardiola has won five major trophies in three seasons at the Etihad, but a failure to progress beyond the quarter-finals of the Champions League has been the big disappointment of his reign.

Guardiola’s side trail Liverpool at the top of the Premier League by a mammoth 22 points this season with their campaign now set to be judged on how they fare in Europe.

“I want to win the Champions League. I dream (of it) and I will enjoy preparing for the games against Madrid,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.

“If we don’t beat them, OK, come the chairman or the sports director and say, ‘It’s not good enough, we want the Champions League, I’m going to sack you.’

“I don’t know (if this would happen). It has happened many times and could maybe happen.”

Guardiola has a contract at the Etihad until the end of next season.

After four years at Barcelona and three in charge of Bayern Munich, he is expected to fulfil his deal and enter the fifth season at one club for the first time in his managerial career.

But the Catalan coach also hit back at the suggestion that the success or failure of a season should only be measured in trophies.

“We give a bad, bad message for the new generation, for our kids, to just count the winner, the trophies to winning,” added Guardiola.

“You say the season is a disaster but if you win the Champions League it will be exceptional. Why? It is difficult to win.

“If you don’t, we can say in more than 100 years of history (there) were 100 failure seasons for Manchester City. That is not true.”

AFP