EPL

Pep Guardiola ‘more than satisfied’ with what he is seeing from Manchester City

By Sports Desk February 19, 2024

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has stressed he is “more than satisfied” with what he is seeing from his team.

Saturday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium, secured by Rodri’s late equaliser, brought an 11-match winning run in all competitions to an end for City.

The defending champions are third in the table, two points behind second-placed Arsenal and four behind leaders Liverpool ahead of playing their game in hand when hosting Brentford on Tuesday.

Guardiola – whose treble-winners are aiming for a fourth successive league title – told a press conference: “The last five, 10 minutes first half, (and) in the second half, we were in our best level.

“But I know the standards we have, that we create to be there, for what we have done in the past, and I understand completely the doubts for the people but what I am seeing, I’m more than satisfied.

“I’ll give credit to Chelsea, who created problems, not just because in some actions we were not good. But in general when you analyse the game, we were more than decent.

“But I know our standards, and you demand our standards, for what we have done in the past. I know it’s not easy to sustain it. For a long, long, long time we did it.

“We were 11 games winning, and the people say ‘they are not going to lose any other game’. So now, just for one draw…when for 55, 60 minutes, we were who we are.”

Guardiola added: “You demand to us all the time, the only team, because we achieve what we have achieved. We have to live with that. We know that. We know how difficult it is, we know it. It’s you that believes it’s easy, not us.”

And when then asked if people demanding perfection every game was the price of success, he said: “Absolutely – I had experience at my previous clubs, especially Barcelona.

“It’s an honour. Go for it. But no effect – we know what it is and we have to continue doing what we try. It’s normal.

“In the beginning was a lack of consistency, and I said it’s how we behave in many, many things in how we perform and I demand, I’m the first to demand myself, the team do it during in 95 minutes, knowing it’s impossible.

“The reality is since we lost against Aston Villa (on December 6) we didn’t lose one game (in 15), and in the (two) games we drew, we were better.

“Are we going to win the Premier League? I don’t know. But still we are there and this is why we continue.”

Guardiola – who confirmed Jack Grealish (groin) and Josko Gvardiol (ankle) will again be unavailable on Tuesday – was also asked what he thought of Kylian Mbappe as a player, following a report in Spain that one of the Paris St Germain star’s representatives had a meeting with City last week.

And he said with a smile: “I think he’s quite good – he has a future! He’s really, really good.”

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    Wataru Endo says Liverpool need an immediate reaction to a pair of disappointing results that have damaged Jurgen Klopp’s hopes of making a triumphant farewell.

    Last weekend’s 2-2 draw at rivals Manchester United dented the Reds’ Premier League title bid as an intense three-way tussle for the crown continues.

    Worse was to follow on Thursday night as Liverpool collapsed 3-0 at home to Atalanta in a shock Europa League quarter-final first-leg defeat.

    Klopp’s men face an almighty challenge to turn things around in Italy next week, but first comes Sunday’s Anfield encounter Crystal Palace in the Premier League.

    “It’s tough,” midfielder Endo said after the shock Atalanta result. “I think they did very well offensively and defensively, they had good tactics and they played well so we need to work hard.

    “But we have one more game before we play Atalanta next and we need to react now. It is always about how we react, it is about the results.

    “Another game is coming so it is just about getting ready for that and we need to step it up to try and win.

    “It is always a tough opponent but we play at Anfield again, so we have to start strongly and offensively we have to make it better. Better than the last few games, yes.

    “I am glad the game is coming this quickly because we have a chance to win again quickly so we just get ready and we want to win the game.”

    Endo says the Reds must move forward with positivity, which should be made easier by the fact key players are returning for the run-in.

    Diogo Jota came on for his first appearance in two months on Thursday, when Trent Alexander-Arnold and Stefan Bajcetic were unused substitutes.

    Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker is also back in training and Endo said: “It is a positive that almost everyone is coming back to play.

    “I think we are fine and we will stick together and try and win the next game.”

  • Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea would have struggled in Europe because of injuries Mauricio Pochettino: Chelsea would have struggled in Europe because of injuries

    Mauricio Pochettino said he doubts whether Chelsea could have handled a European campaign this season as he has grappled with an injury crisis.

    The Argentinian could be without 11 players for Monday’s game against Everton, with Enzo Fernandez and Raheem Sterling the latest doubts for the meeting at Stamford Bridge.

    It has been the club’s first campaign without European competition since 2016/17, and only their second since 1996/97, following a 12th-place finish in the Premier League last season.

    An unbeaten run of seven games, their longest in the league for almost 18 months, has put them in contention  to reach either the Europa League or Conference League, whilst they could also qualify by winning the FA Cup.

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    “Imagine if we had played in Europe this season, with all the circumstances (injuries)? Oh my goodness,” said the 52-year-old.

    “With a squad that is always between eight and 10 players missing in every single game. If you add more games, we would struggle a lot.

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    Teams in previous seasons have benefited from having a season without European competition, taking time to regroup before following up with much improved campaigns the following year.

    Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers in 2013/14 came within two points of winning the title whilst not having to contend with a European schedule, whilst Chelsea were crowned champions under Antonio Conte in 2016/17 a year after finishing 10th.

    Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to a fifth-place finish in 2021/22, the club’s first without Europe in 26 years, during which the team showed significant progress that has led to them challenging for the title in consecutive seasons.

    Pochettino countered that the situation at Chelsea, whose owners have spent over £1billion on assembling a young and largely inexperienced squad, cannot be compared to previous examples.

    “Now, it’s completely different,” he said. “You cannot compare to Conte or Brendan Rodgers, it’s not fair. We are in a different Chelsea today.

    “The conversation is always to win the next game, then the next and then the next, and see in which position we arrive.

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  • Kieron Edwards to lead new TTFA administration Kieron Edwards to lead new TTFA administration

    Kieron Edwards has been elected new President of the Trinidad and Tobago Football Association (TTFA).

    Edwards, leading Team Progressive, defeated Colin Wharfe and his Transformation team at the Elective Congress 38-19 on Saturday morning at the Home of Football in Couva.

    The new administration will be the first self-governed TTFA in more than four years. This as William Wallace's administration was removed months after he was elected in November 2019, as FIFA intervened and installed its Normalisation Committee in March 2020, citing financial concerns.

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    “Our slate [did] the work and left it in the hand of the membership, and they made the decision,” said Edwards.

    Edwards pointed out that his team will meet on Monday to hit the ground running to move football forward in the twin island republic. His administration comprises Colin Murray, Osmond Downer, and Jameson Rigues as the three vice-presidents, while Alicia Austin, Inspector Andrew Boodhoo, Allan Logan, Ryan Nunes, and Shelton Williams are the ordinary members.

    Looking ahead, Edwards revealed that his administration will review the positions of all TTFA staff including that of general secretary Amiel Mohammed, who was hired by the Robert Hadad -chaired Normalisation Committee.

    “He is the general secretary currently and I will work with him until further notice,” said Edwards.

    “Coaches that are under contract, we will honour those contracts and we will work with them. It is not a situation of moving this one (or that one), it is about giving support and enhancing what we do to ensure that we qualify for tournaments, and we do well in tournaments. That is the objective of the next executive going forward," he added.

    He was gracious too to outgoing Normalisation Committee, which included Nigel Romano and Trevor Nicholas Gomez, as well as members of Wharfe’s slate.

    “It is one TTFA and we will work together with all members and your voice will be heard. It is about inclusion; the Normalisation Committee played a crucial role, and we need to acknowledge the service they did for Trinidad and Tobago," Edwards noted.

    Meanwhile, Wharfe promised to continue doing what he can for football in Trinidad and Tobago.

    “We at Team Transformation accept the result and will continue to work for football in any way that we think possible. I will continue to do my job (as TTPFL CEO) and the new executive will make determinations in terms of what tomorrow would look like,” he said.

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