EPL

We’ll win the Premier League – Pep Guardiola sends message to Man City’s rivals

By Sports Desk December 05, 2023

Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City will retain the Premier League title if they maintain their current level of performance.

The treble winners have been held to draws in their last three games at the hands of Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham.

Yet in a strong message to rivals and any doubters, Guardiola has insisted his players are not lacking any hunger as they chase a fourth successive league crown.

The City manager said: “I have a feeling that if we maintain that level, we’ll win the Premier League. We will win it again.

“If we (could) maintain the level of Liverpool and Tottenham, I’ll sign for it right now. We didn’t win 5-0 – we drew – but I’d sign right now (for) my team (to) behave the way we’ve played the last two games.

“I don’t know if we can sustain that all season and that is the challenge.”

Guardiola name-checked a number of prominent football pundits, including former Manchester United defender Gary Neville, as he insisted there was no complacency within his squad.

“I don’t have anything to say about the pundits,” said Guardiola, whose side travel to Aston Villa on Wednesday.

“Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think it’s about complacency. I know the players, I know how they run. How we behave is extraordinary.

“He knows how difficult it is otherwise Gary Neville would’ve won four Premier Leagues in the best period of Manchester United. But he didn’t do it.

“I see my team, how they fight, how they press, how they continue until the end and how upset they are after we concede.

“Maybe, maybe I’m wrong and they are seeing everything that I’m not able to see, but I don’t have that feeling.

“Jamie Carragher didn’t win one (league title). Micah Richards didn’t win four Premier Leagues in a row. Never, ever.”

Guardiola has also defended the conduct of his team after the stormy end to Sunday’s 3-3 draw with Spurs.

A number of players surrounded referee Simon Hooper in protest when Erling Haaland was denied the chance to play advantage after being fouled.

Haaland had quickly got up from a bad tackle to play a through-ball for Jack Grealish which could have led to a stoppage-time City winner.

City have been charged with failing to control their players over the incident by the Football Association.

“I would like to know how the reaction should be when that last action happened,” Guardiola said.

“We didn’t lose because of that action, maybe Jack wouldn’t have scored.

“But I would like to know from the Premier League or whoever, how should we react in that situation? We want to be there, we want to compete against the top sides. It’s a human instinct.

“Right now the players would not react in that way, but in that moment someone tell me. They want to fine (us), we’ll be fined. It’s fine, but I promise you, if you are a footballer and it happened, you would react in that way.

“It happened 20 years ago, 40 years ago. It will happen in 40 years. Of course you have to respect the referees. Tell me one player or manager who doesn’t respect the referees, but it is emotions. It is feelings.”

Related items

  • Calvin Bassey: Fulham ‘wanted’ victory more than Manchester United Calvin Bassey: Fulham ‘wanted’ victory more than Manchester United

    Goalcorer Calvin Bassey felt Fulham just “wanted it more” than Manchester United after the Londoners claimed a shock win at Old Trafford.

    Alex Iwobi struck in the seventh minute of stoppage time as the Cottagers killed off a late United fightback to snatch a last-gasp 2-1 victory in the Premier League on Saturday.

    Fulham had been course for what seemed a deserved success courtesy of Bassey’s opener but United produced a strong finish and Harry Maguire appeared to have salvaged a point for the hosts in the 89th minute.

    Yet while United pushed for a late clincher themselves, they were caught on the counter-attack and Iwobi capitalised to secure his side’s first win at Old Trafford since 2003.

    “I don’t think you can just come here and overrun them,” said defender Bassey, whose goal was his first for the club. “You can see the quality of the players they have.

    “They have got top players and a top manager and players that can have an effect off the bench, but we were just at it more and I felt we wanted it more. That showed in the way we played.

    “(The equaliser) was a bit annoying, but we had done so well to even get 1-1, so then it was about making sure we didn’t leave with nothing. But then we got a chance and we were able to bury it.”

    Mid-table Fulham’s victory was only their second in their last six games in what has been an inconsistent season but Bassey hopes a corner has been turned.

    “It is always nice to win a game and hopefully we can keep this momentum going,” the Nigeria international said.

    The result put an end to United’s four-game winning run in the league and dented their hopes of reaching the top four.

    Maguire feels the team need to get it out of their system quickly ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup trip to Nottingham Forest and then the derby against Manchester City next weekend.

    The England centre-back told MUTV: “We know it’s going to be a tough game in midweek. Our full focus is on that one. We’ve got to bounce back.

    “A big reaction is needed. It’s going to be a tough game, but one that we got to go there and produce a performance like we did there last year.”

    Maguire admitted United were caught out in the end by Fulham but said pushing for the win seemed the right approach at the time.

    He said: “This season we’ve scored numerous late goals, numerous late winners. So we had great belief that we were going to go on to win the game.

    “Obviously in hindsight now we can all sit here and say that we should have been more cautious, we were far too naive.

    “We can look back and I’m sure we’ll assess it in terms of areas that we can improve on but, ultimately, over the 90 minutes we didn’t do enough to win the game.”

  • Pep Guardiola still expects more from outstanding Phil Foden Pep Guardiola still expects more from outstanding Phil Foden

    Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has lavished praise on “top-class” Phil Foden for his outstanding form, but insisted the attacker can still improve.

    Foden struck the only goal in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Bournemouth to move the Premier League champions to within one point of leaders Liverpool after 26 fixtures.

    It was Foden’s 16th effort in all competitions this campaign, which equals his previous best tally from the 2020-21 season and made it six goal involvements during February after he hit a hat-trick at Brentford earlier this month.

    “Forget about the goals. Of course they’re important, but do you know how he played? How he controls and accelerates. He has become already a top-class football player,” Guardiola explained.

    “He was before a little boy, good actions. Now he has become already a world-class top player. So good. He can play everywhere, especially in the central positions, which is really, really good.

    “In the middle, I think in the (Club) World Cup in Saudi Arabia, he play really good, he understand more the game. His work ethic and how he runs, everything. He has become a top, top class player.

    “He’s young and can improve. Always I had the feeling that Phil always had the sense of goal.

    “Always had this sense of he can score. I met him when he is 16-years-old, he train with us and a little bit like Cole Palmer, arrive there and always have the feeling they can score.

    “Phil has this incredible ability, this incredible ability to do it.”

    Foden’s latest decisive effort made it 15 wins from 17 matches for City who remain in the hunt to achieve another treble after last season’s Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League triumphs.

    Next up for Guardiola’s side is a trip to Luton on Tuesday for an FA Cup fifth-round tie, which is the final fixture of a busy February where they have juggled three competitions.

    City’s schedule shows no sign of easing though with league encounters to come against Manchester United, Liverpool and Arsenal in March.

    Guardiola added: “We are tired, but we recover. We’ll sleep good, we’ll eat good and we will be ready for Luton. We want to go through. I know it’s very difficult but it is what it is.

    “We played Champions League and all the teams have a long week in the Champions League because the schedule is there. (Then) we played against Brentford and Brentford is dentist. Going to the dentist without anaesthetic.

    “Do you know why we played against Brentford (last week)? We played the World Cup in Saudi Arabia, two games.

    View this post on Instagram

    A post shared by Premier League (@premierleague)

    “I see the schedule, (every) three days and after Tuesday to Sunday, then we have Champions League and then we have another one. United, then maybe I don’t know FA Cup or Brighton, then after Liverpool, Arsenal, Aston Villa. So, yeah still we are there.

    “One point behind after being champions for everything. That is good. I don’t know what is going to happen with my players after they win everything, how they would react? Oh my god. Better than is possible. Impossible, impossible.

    “Every year it’s tough, but I love that it is tough. Okay, we accept it. We accept the challenge, that’s for sure.

    “We accept the challenge to be good. I know Arsenal and Liverpool, what a team they (both) are.

    “And step by step, as much as we are there, we can arrive the last games being there and everything can happen.

    “With these players, with this genetic personality and mentality, no matter what competition always they perform and give everything.”

  • Former Aston Villa and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl dies at age of 77 Former Aston Villa and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl dies at age of 77

    Former Southampton and Northern Ireland defender Chris Nicholl, who captained Aston Villa to League Cup glory, has died at the age of 77.

    Nicholl, who also managed Southampton before taking charge of Walsall, had been living with dementia, specifically chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which he attributed to brain damage caused by repeatedly heading balls over his lengthy career.

    The former central defender’s death was confirmed in a family statement on his daughter Cathy’s Facebook account.

    It said: “It is with a heavy heart that we write this. Chris Nicholl (our dad) sadly passed away peacefully on Saturday evening in hospital.

    “He fought a very long battle with CTE, caused by his dedication to football. Words can’t describe how much we’ll miss him.”

    Wilmslow-born Nicholl, who was capped 51 times by Northern Ireland and represented them at the 1982 World Cup finals in Spain, began his career at Burnley, but made more than 200 appearances for both Villa and the Saints.

    A dependable defender, he famously scored with a 40-yard piledriver as Villa lifted the 1977 League Cup with a 3-2 second replay victory over Everton which went to extra time at Old Trafford.

    In a series of posts on the club’s official X – formerly Twitter – account, Villa said: “Aston Villa is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of former player Chris Nicholl, who has died at the age of 77.

    “The thoughts of everyone at the club are with Chris’ family and friends at this difficult time.

    “A two-time promotion and League Cup winner, Chris Nicholl’s achievements in claret and blue will never be forgotten.

    “He was a dominant figure at the heart of the Aston Villa defence for over five seasons, making 252 appearances and scoring 20 goals.

    “Rest in peace, Chris.”

    After hanging up his boots, Nicholl moved into management at the Dell when he was appointed as Lawrie McMenemy’s replacement during the summer of 1985, and it was he who promoted the emerging talents of Alan Shearer, Matt Le Tissier and Rod Wallace to the Southampton first team.

    Shearer said on X: “RIP Chris Nicholl. You believed in me and gave me my chance. Thank you.”

    Le Tissier added: “The thoughts and prayers of my family go out to the family of my first manager Chris Nicholl, who has sadly passed away.

    “I’ll always be eternally grateful to Chris for having the faith in me as a 17 year old boy to give me my opportunity to prove I was good enough to be a professional footballer. Gone, but never forgotten #RIPChris.”

    Nicholl parted company with the Saints in May 1991 and spent three years out of the game before taking the hotseat at Walsall.

    The Saddlers said on X: “We are devastated to learn that former manager Chris Nicholl has passed away.

    “Chris led the Saddlers from 1994 to 1997 and won promotion to Division Two in what was a memorable 1994-95 campaign.

    “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this incredibly sad time.”

    Nicholl was reunited with McMenemy during his spell in charge of Northern Ireland, serving as his assistant manager.

    A statement on the Irish FA’s X account said: “We are saddened to learn of the passing of Chris Nicholl. He played 51 times for us, including the 1982 World Cup in Spain.

    “Our thoughts are with his family and friends at this time”

    In 2017, Nicholl told Shearer as part of a BBC documentary of his fears over the damage he had suffered during his playing career.

    He said: “I am brain-damaged from heading footballs. My memory is in trouble.

    “Everyone forgets regular things, where your keys are. But when you forget where you live, that’s different.

    “I’ve had that for the last four or five years, it is definitely getting worse. It bothers me.”

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.