EPL

Cruyff would have backed Manchester City stay - Guardiola

By Sports Desk November 23, 2022

Pep Guardiola has no doubt late mentor Johan Cruyff would have backed his decision to remain with Manchester City after penning a new two-year contract.

The Catalan coach has agreed fresh terms with the Premier League champions to take him through to 2025, stretching his tenure in charge to what will be a nine-year stay.

Under his watch, City have entrenched themselves as the dominant force in English football, with four top-flight titles, though their dream of winning the Champions League remains elusive.

Reflecting on his decision, Guardiola suggested both director of football Txiki Begiristain and himself would have received blessing from the late Dutchman, who managed them during their playing days at Barcelona.

"I think he would say extend two more years the contract!" he told City's website. "I am pretty sure Johan Cruyff would say that.

"From above he is happy right now. Always, I have the feeling of how sad about the fact he cannot be here to enjoy it with all of us. We are his sons, Txiki and myself.

"We talk about how nice it would be if he was here, but something he taught us or drove us with always is there."

Guardiola also took time to praise his backroom staff at City, who have helped him achieve nine major honours as manager.

"First of all, the quality that they have as human beings, first and foremost otherwise they would not be here," he said.

"But you have to cultivate, you have to grow, we have to still do what we have to do to continue to be better. Also, for the backroom staff, the message I’ve done is the same.

"It's not that what we have done is enough. They have to improve themselves, show they want to be here, that they want to help us [and] the club improve altogether. They know I'm just a part of that."

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    Brazil defender Dani Alves has no doubt over what he can offer to Tite's World Cup squad, despite being 39.

    Former Barcelona and Juventus full-back Alves made the 26-man selection for Qatar, but is yet to feature at the tournament.

    That seems set to change on Friday, with Tite set to ring the changes for Brazil's final Group G match against Cameroon, given the Selecao's place in the last 16 is already assured.

    While acknowledging he is no longer at his peak, Alves – who made his Brazil debut in 2006 – is sure on just what he can bring to the team.

    "[I'm] very proud to be able to be here," he said at a press conference.

    "I have been doing so for many years with the squad, so to be able to wrap up this cycle by playing in the World Cup makes me very happy.

    "When you work hard, dedicate yourself and go after what you want, you'll go places you would never have thought of. That's what life is giving me.

    "All my 16 years on the squad, I have done my best for the team. Life always rewards the people who love what they do and do their very best on the mission.

    "I am reaping what I have planted over those 16 years. It's normal that people question this because of my age or because I am not at my best, but at the World Cup it's not about being your best for a club, but having your best moment at the tournament.

    "In the two matches that I wasn't present, our team needed a better defender in my position, I'm good as an attacker – that's a plan that we have established here, to know how the team plays and what will be demanded of a player.

    "I am here to serve the team. If I have to play the drum, I will be the best drummer out there. 

    "I know what I can do for the team and know there are other players at a better moment than I for what is requested. I know I can deliver, know what I can deliver.

    "Trust is something you don't ask for, it's something you obtain. I have obtained the trust."

    Tite believes Alves sets the prime example to the younger players in his squad.

    "We represent people with a lot of love, a lot of pride, passion and dedication," Tite said.

    "Dani is an example of that. He does everything with high quality. I greatly respect those who have got to where he has. He is much more than football, much more than a player on the pitch."

    Two of the younger players Tite will be hoping are looking to emulate Alves are wingers Gabriel Martinelli and Antony, with both options to start against Cameroon.

    Both players were featuring in Sao Paulo Youth Cup only three years ago, and Alves believes their success is proof hard work pays off.

    "A few years ago they were playing a minor tournament and now they're at the World Cup," Alves said. "It shows their dedication, and shows how we need to mature quickly. They deserve to be here, that's their reward.

    "We win when everybody plays at the same level, on and off the field. I think this is the most balanced team we have ever had."

    Brazil will be without the injured Neymar and Danilo against Cameroon, though both have progressed to working in the swimming pool.

    Should the Selecao win Group G, they will play against the runners-up of Group H on Monday in the last 16.

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    Belgium have endured a tumultuous week ahead of a World Cup match they almost certainly must win in order to advance from Group F.

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  • 'We wish him much health' – Pele gets message of support from Brazil's World Cup squad 'We wish him much health' – Pele gets message of support from Brazil's World Cup squad

    Pele is in the thoughts of Brazil's World Cup stars as he undergoes treatment in hospital, head coach Tite said on Thursday.

    Three-time World Cup winner Pele, regarded among the greatest players of all time, is receiving medical care at home in Brazil.

    The 82-year-old underwent surgery to remove a tumour from his colon last year, and has been in and out of hospital since.

    His daughter, Kely Nascimento, has said there is "no surprise or emergency" over her father's hospitalisation after he was admitted this week.

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    Pele's daughter said in her statement on Wednesday that "the media is freaking out again", adding that she planned to visit her father in the new year, with her brothers visiting at present.

    As Brazil got their tournament under way last week, Pele sent the squad a message of good luck. He was a World Cup winner in 1958, 1962 and 1970.

    He wrote on Instagram: "Today we start writing a new story. No matter the size and tradition of the opponents: we must respect and play each match with the focus of a final.

    "It is important to play beautifully, yes, but it is also essential to leave everything on the pitch.

    "Today, we will be more than 200 million hearts beating as one, vibrating with each achievement of our Selecao.

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    Brazil have begun their campaign with a 2-0 win over Serbia and a 1-0 success against Switzerland, rounding off their Group G campaign against Cameroon on Friday.

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