EPL

Pep Guardiola ‘99.99’ per cent certain Man City repeat treble will not happen

By Sports Desk February 09, 2024

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has dismissed talk of a repeat treble by saying he is “99.99” per cent certain it will not happen.

The champions are favourites to win a fourth Premier League title in succession and are also in strong contention to retain the Champions League and FA Cup.

Winning those trophies in back-to-back seasons would be unprecedented and therefore Guardiola, whose silverware haul in the past year also includes the European Super Cup and Club World Cup, feels it is unlikely.

The Spaniard said at a press conference: “Sextuple, ‘seventuple’? It’s a fairytale. It’s more complicated than that.

“We have 99.99 per cent possibility that we are not going to win the treble because it has never ever ever been done. The chances to do it again are like this (shows tiny gap between thumb and index finger) – minimal.

“If it was easy, another team – (Manchester) United in that time – would have done it again. It’s not easy.

“Everything is so difficult in this business. What we have done in the past is absolutely no guarantee of anything.

“What I like is that we are still there. We are close to the top of the league, we are in the other competitions.

“Hopefully we will arrive in March and April with the same feeling and if we have the same feeling, we will fight for the titles in May. This is the target.”

City have won their last nine games in all competitions and appear to be gathering familiar momentum at the right time.

Yet while the likes of Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez have earned praise for their form, and Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne have returned from injury, Jack Grealish’s levels have dipped.

The England international was one of the key players in last season’s treble success but has not hit the same heights this term and has not started City’s last four games.

His most recent subdued form comes after an unsettling incident in December when his home was burgled, while his fiancee and members of his family were in the property, as he played in a game at Everton.

Guardiola accepts that could have affected him.

He said: “I’m pretty sure (it did affect him). After a few days hopefully he forgot it but I’m pretty sure. I was affected too and I would have been affected too.

“It is not easy what happened with him, his girlfriend and family, so I’m pretty sure (it affected him).

“But he handled it really well. He is an incredible person with incredible humanity.

“Here, with security and people at his disposal, we have tried to help him but it happened. We haven’t spoken lately about that subject so hopefully it is fine.”

Guardiola pointed out Grealish’s lack of action was largely due to the form of other players.

He said: “It’s not a big, big problem – completely the opposite. He is competing with players at a high level. He is making steps to get his best (form). We need everyone and we need Jack.”

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    Mauricio Pochettino insists Reece James will not be rushed back from the hamstring injury that has disrupted his season, even if a delayed return costs him a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad.

    The club captain has made just eight Premier League appearances this campaign and is at risk of missing out on a second international tournament in as many years, having been ruled out of the 2022 World Cup with a knee problem.

    He featured only 16 times in the league last season when a combination of knee and hamstring injuries kept him on the sidelines for club and country.

    And after being forced off during August’s 1-1 draw with Liverpool he has had even worse luck this term.

    The 24-year-old, who has only once in his Chelsea career reached 30 league appearances in a season, teased on social media this week that “the comeback is coming” and has returned to the training pitch, albeit working separately from his team-mates.

    However, with a history of recurring fitness problems, Pochettino was understandably cautious about reintroducing him and was adamant he would not be hurried back for the sake of his international place.

    “I cannot say the date of when it’s possible,” said the Argentinian. “His target and our target is for him to be fit and feel happy and well. Then we’ll see about the possibility of going to the Euros or not, or to be ready for next season or to play before we finish this season.

    “The most important thing now is to build his confidence, his physical condition, to recover all the good feelings.

    “The target is not to try and play the last five games or in the Euros or pre-season. The target is to build again his confidence and to feel strong, then to start to play when he feels strong and can deal again with the competition.”

    Despite establishing himself as a key figure for Chelsea when fit, James has so far made just a single major tournament appearance, starting for Gareth Southgate’s side in a goalless draw with Scotland at Euro 2020.

    He looked set to be a member of the squad in Qatar until a knee injury in a Champions League match against AC Milan scuppered his chances.

    “I didn’t speak with (Southgate),” said Pochettino. “But we have spoken people involved in (the FA), medical, performance people.

    “It’s not ‘now I can go on the pitch, I can play’. It’s to be sure we can go to the competition and he can feel strong and can forget all that has happened in the past.”

    James will be one of seven players unavailable to Pochettino at Brentford on Saturday.

    Injures have severely disrupted the seasons of Christopher Nkunku, Romeo Lavia, Lesley Ugochukwu and Carney Chukwuemeka, whilst Wesley Fofana is likely to be forced to miss the entire campaign.

    The manager reiterated his frustration at the impact injuries have had on his first season in charge.

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  • Ange Postecoglou warns players of social media risks after Ryan Sessegnon plea Ange Postecoglou warns players of social media risks after Ryan Sessegnon plea

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    Sessegnon is set to spend the rest of the season on the treatment table and is currently joined by Richarlison, who suffered a knee injury during the 2-1 home defeat to Wolves on February 17.

    Richarlison is not expected to return until after the international break and Postecoglou will also be without Pedro Porro (muscle) for Saturday’s visit of Crystal Palace.

    Fifth-placed Tottenham will aim to get their Champions League qualification hopes back on track against Palace and their manager expressed his frustration at the stop-start nature of their campaign.

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  • Dixon's strike the difference between Reggae Boyz and Soca Warriors in opening friendly Dixon's strike the difference between Reggae Boyz and Soca Warriors in opening friendly

    Jamaica's senior Reggae Boyz drew first blood against their Trinidad and Tobago counterparts, as they registered a 1-0 win in the first of their two-match friendly series at the Hasely Crawford Stadium on Friday.

    Kaheim Dixon's 58th-minute strike proved the solitary goal of the contest which was played behind closed doors to facilitate preparation for the twin island republic's Carifta Games trials.

    Dixon, the former Clarendon College stalwart, was the first Reggae Boy to score on debut since Justin McMaster's feat against Cameroon in 2022.

    Reggae Boyz assistant coach Merron Gordon said their main objective to expose new talents were met as they fielded 13 debutants on the day.

    "Games like these are always tough playing against Trinidad and Tobago, but I think it was a good game. Both teams, I think had the same objective which was to expose these players as much as possible and I think we got that," Gordon said in a post-match interview.

    "When you see a player like Kahiem score a goal on his debut is amazing and these are the kind of things that we want for them to transition from schoolboy football into international football and I think he acquitted himself well, and young Jayden Hibbert in goal is a teenager as well so that augurs well for us," he added.

    The Jamaicans started well, and were more threatening in open play in the early exchanges, before Trinidad and Tobago's Soca Warriors found their rhythm. Though the first half ended goalless, it wasn't for a lack of trying, as both teams had looks at goal.

    In the 12th minute, Kaihim Thomas got the first effort off for the Soca Warriors from a distance, but Reggae Boyz goalkeeper Kemar Foster took flight to tip over.

    Alex Marshall, who proved a menace to the Soca Warriors's backline, responded for the Reggae Boyz, but his effort was parried by Adrian Foncette, in goal for Trinidad and Tobago.

    Jamaica's Reggae Boyz maintained the momentum on the resumption and again went close through Romeo Guthrie, whose shot was blocked by Foncette at his near post two minutes in.

    The deadlock was eventually broken when Dixon produced an intelligent run down the right channel, dismissed a defender and tucked home.

    They should have doubled the lead in the 65th when Sue-Lae McCalla found himself with space and time to fire home from Guthrie's corner, but somehow steered the effort wide.

    Seconds later, Marshall and Dixon connected well with the latter driving his right-footer into the sidenetting.

    The Reggae Boyz continued to apply consistent pressure but found the Soca Warriors defence in defiant mode, as a 69th-minute effort by Jason Wright from Andre Fletcher's pass, was charged down.

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    Despite the scoreline, Soca Warriors Head coach Angus Eve, took heart from the performance.

    "Not disappointed at all. Many of these players are playing at this level for the very first time and I think they acquitted themselves well and we were in the game for the most part, but we gave away a sloppy goal that proved the difference in the game. We want to give people exposure as you can see, we made minimum number of changes because we wanted to expose the young guys as much as possible. So, this is a good exercise for them to understand the pace of the game at this level going forward," Eve said.

    The teams will meet again on Sunday at the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima at 3:00pm Jamaica time.

    NB: That game can also be seen live on SportsMax 

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