UCL: ‘It Is Tough For Us,’ Says Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. Real Madrid won the match 3-1. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

A dispirited Pep Guardiola has summed up the heart-wrenching Champions League semi-final loss to Real Madrid by admitting that the manner of his side’s 6-5 aggregate defeat was ‘tough’ to accept.

City appeared to be heading to a second successive final when Riyad Mahrez put them two goals ahead in the tie with 17 minutes left, but Rodrygo had other thoughts when he struck twice in the 90th and 91st minutes to force extra time.

And a 94th-minute penalty from Karim Benzema made sure the English side were left to rue their errors and kept Real Madrid’s hopes of a 14th Champions League trophy alive.

READ ALSO: Man City Suffer Most Painful Champions League Meltdown In Madrid

In a post-match interview, the 51-year-old Spaniard reflected on the loss admitting it  hurt not to secure passage to the grand stage of the competition

“It is tough for us. We cannot deny it. We were so close to arriving in the Champions League final,” Guardiola admitted.

“We didn’t play much good in the first half. We didn’t find our game, but it’s normal in this competition. The second half was much better.

Speaking on his side’s approach to the game, Guardiola stated that his front-men were wasteful in front of goal.

“After the goal we controlled it. We found the game, we arrived at the byline. Jack (Grealish) helped us to control the game and unfortunately, he could not finish when we were close.

“Before the first goal [for Madrid] we had two chances, especially one so clear with Jack.

“In that moment we didn’t have the feeling we were in trouble for the way they attack. It didn’t happen. They score a goal at the end. They have done it many times in their history.

“They put a lot of players in the box. Four strikers plus Militao and they find the goals.

“I have had defeats in the Champions League. I have had tough defeats with Barcelona against Chelsea when both games were exceptional and we could not reach the final.”

Jesus Scores Four As Leaders Man City Crush Watford

Manchester City's Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (R) celebrates with Manchester City's Ukrainian midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko (L) after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 23, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (R) celebrates with Manchester City’s Ukrainian midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko (L) after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Watford at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on April 23, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola saluted “fantastic” Gabriel Jesus after the Brazilian scored four times as Manchester City crushed Watford 5-1 to move four points clear at the top of the Premier League on Saturday.

Jesus stole the show at the Etihad Stadium with the first Premier League haul of three or more goals in his career.

The forward had netted only once in the league since September, but he tore Watford to shreds with a predatory display of finishing.

He struck twice in the first half before Watford’s Hassane Kamara briefly reduced the deficit.

READ ALSO: Arsenal See Off Sorry Man Utd To Take Control Of Top-Four Battle

Rodri restored City’s two-goal advantage and Jesus bagged two more after half-time to complete the rout.

“It’s amazing. Sometimes you play so good and don’t score and sometimes it is like this and you score all the chances you have,” Jesus said.

“I’m happy it was my day. Now is the best moment of the season. When you decide the games and win the trophies. That’s what football is for us.”

After losing to Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals last weekend, Guardiola’s side have signalled their determination to retain the title.

They dismissed Brighton 3-0 on Wednesday and their demolition of second bottom Watford keeps the pressure on second placed Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp’s men can close the gap back to one point if they beat struggling Everton in the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Sunday.

In a thrilling title race that looks destined to go down to the wire, City have five league games left as they chase a fourth English crown in five years.

Their stroll against Watford was the ideal preparation for the Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid in Manchester on Tuesday.

“If there’s one person who deserves the best in life, it’s Gabriel. It doesn’t matter what position he plays, we know how he fights for his mates. He’s fantastic,” Guardiola said.

“We had a ‘final’ today and we won it. Now we have an opportunity to play a ‘final’ against Leeds.

“Nothing changes. We have to win all five games to be champions.”

Guardiola made six changes from the Brighton game, with Ruben Dias replacing the injured John Stones for his first start since March 1 after a hamstring injury.

Incessant City

Since drawing 0-0 at the Etihad in 2006, Watford had lost on each of their previous seven visits, with an aggregate score of 25-2 to City.

They haven’t beaten City since 1989 and it took just four minutes for Guardiola’s men to assert their superiority.

Joao Cancelo’s cross reached Oleksandr Zinchenko and he picked out the unmarked Jesus, who timed his run to finish from close-range.

City’s early dominance was interrupted by a dangerous Watford counter as Emmanuel Dennis surged clear before Zinchenko made a superb last-ditch tackle to avert the danger.

The champions held 80 percent of the possession and that incessant pressure paid off in the 23rd minute.

Kevin De Bruyne was the creator with an inch-perfect cross and Jesus applied the finishing touch with a deft header.

Watford pulled one back against the run of play five minutes later.

Dennis flicked a pass into Kamara’s path and the Ivorian hit a low strike that should have been easy for City keeper Ederson, who somehow allowed it to sneak past his weak attempted save.

Rodri eased City’s sudden anxiety in the 34th minute as the Spanish midfielder smashed a blistering volley into the top corner from long-range.

City were back in the groove and they struck again in the 49th minute when Jesus seized on Kamara’s mistake and was brought down by Foster.

Jesus picked himself up to take the spot-kick and slotted past Foster to complete his treble.

The 25-year-old wasn’t finished yet and he netted for the fourth time after 53 minutes.

Jack Grealish, Jesus and De Bruyne combined in a blur of passes that left Watford bewildered before the Brazilian capped the flowing move with a lethal finish.

 

AFP

Guardiola Keeps Mum On Haaland To Man City Talks

Dortmund’s Norwegian forward Erling Braut Haaland applauds after the German first division Bundesliga football match Borussia Dortmund v VfL Wolfsburg in Dortmund, western Germany, on April 16, 2022. INA FASSBENDER / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola has refused to respond to reports that Manchester City are close to completing a blockbuster deal for Borussia Dortmund striker Erling Haaland.

City are reported to be set to pay the £63 million ($81 million) release clause in Haaland’s Dortmund contract after agreeing to personal terms with the Norway international’s agents this week.

It was said that Haaland’s deal with City would include weekly wages of £500,000 per week.

The 21-year-old is one of the game’s hottest properties and has also been strongly linked with Real Madrid.

READ ALSO: Thiem Suffers Loss To Millman In Serbia Open

Asked about a possible swoop for Haaland, City boss Guardiola would not be drawn on the speculation when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday.

“No answer to your question,” he said ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Brighton.

“I have another concern and business in my head right now than to think what will happen in this club next season.”

Premier League leaders City have lacked a prolific striker this season following the departure of record goalscorer Sergio Aguero last year.

After failing in a high-profile attempt to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham last year, Haaland would fit the bill as the kind of lethal finisher City require.

But with City in the middle of a battle to retain the Premier League title and win a first Champions League crown, Guardiola was keen to focus on the present rather than future deals.

“We don’t know what is going to happen in the future. For many years I never talk about transfer windows, especially when we have incredible things to play for this season,” Guardiola said.

City are one point clear of Liverpool in the Premier League and the Reds can temporarily go top if they avoid defeat against Manchester United on Tuesday.

Their hopes of a treble ended on Saturday as they were beaten 3-2 by Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.

Guardiola had made seven changes for that clash as his players felt the effects of the previous Wednesday’s bruising Champions League tie at Atletico Madrid.

Asked if he had any regrets about his selection at Wembley, Guardiola said: “No. I understand the opinions of my fans. They have all my respect to give their opinions but my selection was for many reasons.

“Kevin (De Bruyne) wasn’t ready, Kyle (Walker) wasn’t ready, (Ilkay) Gundogan wasn’t ready. They (the players who played) were ready.”

De Bruyne and Gundogan are back in contention for the Brighton game, but Walker remains sidelined with an ankle injury.

“For tomorrow he is not available. We will see how he reacts with his ankle,” Guardiola said.

AFP

Guardiola Sympathises With Chelsea’s Tuchel After Sanctions

Chelsea's German head coach Thomas Tuchel looks on during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 18, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP
Chelsea’s German head coach Thomas Tuchel looks on during the English Premier League football match between Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea at the American Express Community Stadium in Brighton, southern England on January 18, 2022. Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits he has sympathy for Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel after the European champions were hit by tough sanctions placed on Blues owner Roman Abramovich.

The Russian billionaire was one of seven oligarchs targeted Thursday by the UK government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, all described as part of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.

Abramovich last week announced he was selling the club but now his UK assets have been frozen, with strict restrictions placed on Chelsea, including over the signing of new players and ticket sales.

Tuchel, as the face of Chelsea, has found himself in the position of de facto club spokesman on the Abramovich situation in recent weeks.

Guardiola, speaking to the reporters, conceded it was an awkward situation for a football manager to deal with.

“When there was Covid we were asked to talk like doctors on the medicine, the vaccines,” he said. “It looks like when we speak here we have to know absolutely everything.

“We are the face of the club, we are right here every three days, so you ask whatever you want, but you have to understand that there are subjects we don’t know, and we don’t have a one-hour lesson to speak or talk about what you are asking for.

 

File photo: Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola looks on from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 21, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

“It’s uncomfortable and I feel sorry for them because they are there to do the jobs as well as possible.”

The sanctions cast uncertainty over the immediate future of Chelsea, who had been linked with a series of potential new billionaire owners over the past week.

Asked about the implications of a Premier League rival being so dramatically hampered, Guardiola would only say: “I don’t have enough opinions, sorry. I saw the headlines but I don’t know exactly the reason why what happened.

“The reason why there is this ban? I don’t know the reason why. For something wrong with the club? For the war in Ukraine? Europe? Russia? I don’t know.”

AFP

Guardiola Hails Man City’s Mental Strength

In this file photo, Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola celebrates during the Premier League trophy award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 23, 2021. Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola has praised the way his Manchester City players have dealt with adversity on and off the pitch after they strengthened their grip on the Premier League title race.

City, who beat Chelsea 1-0 on Saturday, are 11 points clear of second-placed Liverpool after 12 straight league wins and closing in on a fourth English title in five years.

Guardiola cited the example of full-back Joao Cancelo, who suffered facial injuries in an attack at his home last month.

Cancelo has started all three of City’s games since, helping them come through a tough period in which they have been badly hit by a coronavirus outbreak.

“In this season there are personal problems for the players,” said Guardiola. “They are human beings, they have families, there are problems sometimes.

READ ALSO: Nadal, Osaka Through After Djokovic Saga At Australian Open

“For example Joao — he had an incredible episode a couple of weeks ago with the family at home. How should you react in that situation?

“The way he reacted was exceptional. He said he wanted to play against Arsenal, in the cup (against Swindon) and play Saturday.”

Guardiola said he was satisfied more by the continuing success and high standards of his side than the trophies they win.

“These guys, every single game, give everything for this club and this is so hard to find in modern football,” he said.

“We are humble enough to run without the ball and try to do our best every single game. This is my — our — biggest achievement as a club, as a team, by far.

“To win and win after four years, in this country, in this league, this is outstanding. This, for me, is the best title I have or will have when I leave Manchester City.”

Man City Boss Guardiola, Burnley’s Dyche Test Positive For COVID-19

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola looks on from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Norwich City at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on August 21, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has tested positive for Covid-19 in a major outbreak at the Premier League club as Burnley also announced on Thursday that manager Sean Dyche had been sidelined by the virus.

Premier League champions City said 21 players and staff were now isolating for Covid-related reasons as the virus wreaked further havoc on English football.

“Pep Guardiola will miss tomorrow evening’s FA Cup trip to Swindon Town after testing positive for Covid-19,” the club said in a statement.

“The City manager recorded a positive test on Tuesday along with assistant Juanma Lillo. Both are now isolating, along with a number of other positive cases within the City first-team bubble.

“This brings the number of those isolating for Covid-related reasons amongst the group to 21. Of that number, 14 are backroom staff and seven are first-team players.

Despite the outbreak, the third-round FA Cup tie is still scheduled to go ahead with another of Guardiola’s assistants, Rodolfo Borrell, taking charge of the team.

The Omicron variant of coronavirus has resulted in record case numbers across Britain, forcing the postponement of many matches over the past month.

City are one of the few clubs not to have had a match called off yet and they have amassed a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

The first leg of Liverpool’s League Cup semi-final against Arsenal, which had been due to take place on Thursday, was rescheduled after an outbreak forced Liverpool to close their training ground.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Star Aubameyang Tests Positive For COVID-19, Says Gabon Coach

Dyche tested positive on Tuesday, the club said in a statement.

The Premier League announced on Monday that 94 positive cases were detected on 14,250 tests carried out on players and staff between December 27 and January 2.

It was the first week-by-week decrease in positive tests since early November, with a record 103 positives recorded the previous week.

None of the 32 FA Cup third-round ties set for this weekend have yet been postponed.

Guardiola Unrepentant Over Man City Fan Jibe

File photo: Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola
Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

 

Pep Guardiola says he will not apologise for urging fans to fill empty seats at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium after his comments irritated some of the club’s supporters.

The City boss said this week that he wanted a bigger crowd at Saturday’s home game against Southampton than the 38,062 who watched his side’s 6-3 Champions League win over RB Leipzig in midweek.

City’s poor attendances and flat atmosphere for some European games are often used as taunts by rival fans but crowds of more than 50,000 turned up to watch their opening two Premier League games.

Guardiola’s comments annoyed some supporters, who felt the manager had questioned their loyalty, but he said that was a misinterpretation of his comments.

The City manager said at his pre-match press conference on Friday: “Did I say after the game against Leipzig that I was disappointed that the stadium was not full? An interpretation is an interpretation.

“I am not going to apologise for what I said. What I said was we would love, and we need the support.

“It doesn’t matter how many people come but I invite them to come and enjoy the game because we need the support.”

Guardiola said he would never criticise fans for being unable to attend games.

“I am entirely grateful for the support that we had against Leipzig,” he said. “I never have the words to ask why people don’t come. If you can’t come then don’t come.

“If you want to come it’s a pleasure, if you don’t, then don’t.”

Kevin Parker, the general secretary of City’s official supporters club, said Thursday that Guardiola should be more appreciative of the cost for fans in time and money of attending matches.

“He doesn’t understand the difficulties that some people might have getting to a game at the Etihad on a Wednesday evening at 8:00 pm,” Parker said.

“They’ve got kids to think of, they might not be able to afford it, there are still some Covid issues about. I don’t see why he comments on it.

“He’s absolutely the best coach in the world but, in the nicest possible way, I think maybe he should stick to that.”

-AFP

‘Absolutely Not’: Guardiola Quashes Talk Of Messi Move

 


Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola has ruled out a Manchester City move for Lionel Messi after Barcelona’s shock announcement that the Argentina superstar will leave the Camp Nou.

City boss Guardiola was Messi’s manager at Barcelona for four successful years and the Premier League champions were immediately linked with the forward following Thursday’s bombshell news.

But Guardiola had just wrapped up a British record £100 million ($139 million) swoop for Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish when Messi unexpectedly became a free agent.

And, speaking at a press conference on Friday, Guardiola insisted a reunion with Messi was not in his plans at present.

“Right now it is not in our thoughts (to sign Messi), absolutely not,” Guardiola said.

“We spent £40 million on Jack Grealish. £100 million we pay and £60 million we earned in the last year and he will bring the number 10 because we were convinced for Jack Grealish.

“It looked like it finished well in terms of (Messi) continuing with Barcelona. In the end, it was a surprise for everyone, I included of course, but I think Laporta was clear today the reason why.”

Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the club have been forced to end their long relationship with Messi because of “awful” financial problems inherited from the previous regime.

Messi, 34, was out of contract at the end of last season but appeared set to sign a new deal before the sudden announcement of his exit.

As well as City, Paris Saint Germain have also been suggested as suitors for Messi, who won four Champions League and 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona.

Having seen the impact made by Messi at Barcelona up close, Guardiola paid tribute to the star’s remarkable contribution to the club.

“Unfortunately, because as a supporter for my club, I would love him to finish but today the club’s sustainability is so important and what happened in the last year was really not good,” Guardiola said.

“That is why he arrives in this. I have incredible gratitude as a fan for the most extraordinary player I see in my life. Much more than the titles he helped to win Barcelona, how he helped me to be a better manager and to go to Munich and after to England.

“The incredible emotion and actions to be in front of the team and to watch him what he can do with the ball, with his mates in one football game, day by day, game by game, he would make something unique.

“Only I can say thank you so much to bring Barcelona to another level, to bring Barcelona to dominate the world during a decade with him and his mates. I of course wish him for the last years of his career the best and will not be forgotten, that’s for sure.

“Hopefully one day we can properly say the best farewell game ever. He deserves it for his contribution to this club for another level but if Laporta arrives in this situation it is unfortunately because someone before didn’t do well.”

-AFP

Tuchel Set For New Deal And Hungry For More After Chelsea Champions League Triumph

File: Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

While Manchester City had been building towards what they thought was their moment in the Champions League for five years under Pep Guardiola, Chelsea showed with their victory in Saturday’s final in Porto what can be achieved in just four months.

That is how long has elapsed since Thomas Tuchel became coach, replacing Frank Lampard with Chelsea ninth in the Premier League.

The German oversaw an immediate transformation in their fortunes, dragging them into the top four, taking them to the FA Cup final which they lost to Leicester City, and now winning the Champions League.

They have beaten Guardiola’s City for the third time in six weeks thanks to Kai Havertz’s goal, and they are champions of Europe for the second time.

Tuchel is set to reap the rewards with a handsome new contract, although whether he will be allowed to put down roots in west London remains to be seen given how managerial cycles tend to go at Stamford Bridge.

READ ALSO: Nearly 300 Rescued In Indonesia Ferry Accident

Once again a mid-season managerial sacking has worked out perfectly for Chelsea, whose 2012 Champions League triumph came following the decision to sack Andre Villas-Boas and appoint Roberto Di Matteo.

This time Chelsea have struck gold with Tuchel, but the 47-year-old would not have been able to deliver such success without the huge investment in players that came before his arrival, as well as some of the outstanding young talents who were already thriving under Lampard.

– Room for improvement –

Five of Chelsea’s line-up at the Estadio do Dragao were signed at the start of the season, including match-winner Havertz, the 71 million-pound ($100m) recruit from Bayer Leverkusen. There was also Reece James and Mason Mount, youth academy graduates who are in England’s squad for Euro 2020.

This is a team that has already conquered Europe but that appears to be just at the start of its adventure together.

“We have a strong bond, a strong group who can really defend and play and have answers on all questions in the game,” Tuchel said on Saturday.

“Once the celebrations are over and once we digest this experience, it is the moment to grow, to evolve, to learn from it and become better.”

There is huge room for improvement in the Premier League after Chelsea finished 19 points behind champions City, and a proper domestic title challenge will be expected now.

“When you play for a club like Chelsea you are always thinking in the future,” said veteran skipper Cesar Azpilicueta.

Tuchel knows full well that past success counts for little — Di Matteo was gone within six months of that 2012 victory and Tuchel himself was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain last December despite leading them to their first ever final last season.

– ‘I want the next one’ –

“When we won the Cup in Dortmund I did not arrive at the next training with less hunger, less desire or ambition,” he said.

“Of course now is the time to celebrate for some days, to enjoy and let it sink in, for one or two weeks, to talk about it and reflect on it, but then it does surprisingly not a lot to you.

“I think it’s good because nobody wants to rest. I want the next one, the next title. I want to be a part of it and I demand to be a part of it and this is what comes next.”

He was initially handed just an 18-month contract but has earned an extended deal after what he has achieved in such a short time.

“I am not even 100 percent sure, but maybe I already have a new contract now with that win. My manager said something about that but I didn’t know so let’s check this first,” he told reporters with a smile.

“My desire is to go for more victories, to grow as a coach and to push the group on the first day of next season to the limit.”

The next Premier League campaign starts on August 14, but Chelsea will play three days before that against Villarreal with an opportunity for another trophy in the UEFA Super Cup.

AFP

Sterling Starts Champions League Final As Guardiola Goes On The Offensive

The trophy is carried pitch side ahead of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Dragao stadium in Porto on May 29, 2021. SUSANA VERA / POOL / AFP
The trophy is carried pitch side ahead of the UEFA Champions League final football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Dragao stadium in Porto on May 29, 2021. SUSANA VERA / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola made the bold call to drop both his recognised holding midfielders for Saturday’s Champions League final against Chelsea.

Raheem Sterling returns to the City starting line-up with Ilkay Gundogan forced into a deeper role in midfield in the absence of Fernandinho and Rodrigo.

Sterling has been left on the bench by Guardiola for all four quarter-final and semi-final ties as City have reached the final for the first time in their history.

But the England international’s return at the expense of captain Fernandinho is the only change from the team that beat Paris Saint-Germain in the semi-final second leg.

City’s all-time record goalscorer Sergio Aguero also starts on the bench in his final game for the club.

Chelsea are boosted by the return of N’Golo Kante in midfield and Edouard Mendy’s recovery from a rib injury that forced him off at half-time of last weekend’s 2-1 defeat to Aston Villa.

Thomas Tuchel keeps faith with Timo Werner up front despite his wastefulness in front of goal during his first season at Stamford Bridge.

Kai Havertz starts up front alongside his German international teammate Werner.

Manchester City (4-3-3)

Ederson; Kyle Walker, Ruben Dias, John Stones, Oleksandr Zinchenko; Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne (capt), Bernardo Silva; Riyad Mahrez, Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling

Coach: Pep Guardiola (ESP)

Chelsea (3-4-1-2)

Edouard Mendy; Reece James, Thiago Silva, Antonio Rudiger; Cesar Azpilicueta (capt), N’Golo Kante, Jorginho, Ben Chilwell; Mason Mount; Timo Werner, Kai Havertz

Coach: Thomas Tuchel (GER)

Referee: Antonio Mateu Lahoz (ESP)

Guardiola Wins England’s Manager Of The Year Award

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola celebrates during the Premier League trophy award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Everton at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 23, 2021.
Dave Thompson / POOL / AFP

 

Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola has been named manager of the year by England’s League Managers’ Association, it was announced on Monday.

Guardiola steered City to the Premier League title and League Cup this season and this Saturday the Spaniard’s side will bid to be crowned kings of Europe for the first time when they face English rivals Chelsea in the Champions League final in Porto.

Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Guardiola topped a poll where the other leading contenders were Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa, Norwich’s Daniel Farke, Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes, West Ham’s David Moyes, and Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers.

“I am delighted to win the LMA Manager of the year award for the second time,” said Guardiola.

“It is, for me, such a special trophy to win because it is voted for by my fellow managers. An award like this is only possible though if a manager is surrounded by top professionals.

“My players have been fantastic — their dedication and professionalism never wavered, even in a season that has been the most challenging we have ever faced,” added the 50-year-old, whose mother died during the coronavirus pandemic.

“And my staff are also deserving of the highest praise. I am so lucky to have a team of people who give everything they have every single day to make sure Manchester City are the best we can be.

“This award is dedicated to and shared with them.”

Alex Ferguson, the multiple trophy-winning former manager of Manchester United, and now an LMA committee member, paid tribute to Guardiola by saying: “As well as being a truly gifted manager and leader, you always display admirable humility and composure and I am sure your family must be very proud of you.”

Guardiola’s award came just days after it was announced that City defender Ruben Dias had been voted the footballer of the year by England’s Football Writers Association.

Aguero Close To Barcelona Deal, Says Man City Coach Guardiola

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said earlier this week that Sergio Aguero was ‘the best striker in our history’ and that the team needed him back in action. (AFP)

 

Sergio Aguero is close to agreeing a move to Barcelona that would unite him with fellow Argentine superstar Lionel Messi, according to Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. 

City’s record goalscorer, who has spent a decade at the Etihad, scored a quickfire double in the champions’ 5-0 win over Everton in his final Premier League appearance for the club on Sunday.

The goals took his Premier League tally to 184 — the most by any player for a single club.

The 32-year-old forward is set to leave the Etihad as a free agent after Saturday’s Champions League final against Chelsea.

“Maybe I reveal a secret,” Guardiola told the BBC. “Maybe he is close to agreeing a deal for the club of my heart — for Barcelona.

“He is going to be playing alongside the best player of all time, Messi.”

READ ALSO: Suarez Scores As Atletico Madrid Win La Liga

If the move goes ahead it would be Aguero’s second spell in Spain — he made his name at Atletico Madrid before the move to Manchester in 2011.

Aguero’s final season at City was dogged by injury and a coronavirus infection but Guardiola believes the striker has a lot to offer the Catalan giants.

Barcelona had a disappointing season, finishing third in La Liga and falling in the last 16 of the Champions League.

“I’m pretty sure he is going to enjoy,” said Guardiola. “And maybe Barcelona are stronger and stronger with him on the pitch.”

AFP