Pep Guardiola praises ‘special’ Manchester City after making FA Cup history

By Sports Desk March 16, 2024

Pep Guardiola praised the attitude of his Manchester City players after they became the first team in the history of the FA Cup to reach the semi-finals in six consecutive seasons.

Two deflected strikes from Bernardo Silva secured a 2-0 win over Newcastle and the first of what City hope will be three visits to Wembley before the end of the season as they remain in the hunt for a second consecutive treble.

Guardiola is keen to deflect talk of that but praised their consistency, pointing to their record both in the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup, which they won in four consecutive years between 2018 and 2021.

“After we won the treble, and five titles, we’re coming to the international break with two months left and to be in contention for all the titles means a lot,” the City boss said.

“I know people talk about the Premier League, the Champions League, but to have won four Carabao Cups and (reach) six FA Cup semi-finals in a row, this team, this club, has something special, so it’s incredible.

“Of course we want to win all of them but sometimes this is not possible basically for the quality of the opponents and the schedule we have…but we were there six times in a row.

“Always you can have a bad night or a bad afternoon and to be there six times, you didn’t have a bad night. And for those that doubt the consistency of the team you prove they are wrong.”

City effectively put this tie to bed early on. The opener came in the 13th minute when Silva’s right-footed strike looped up off Dan Burn and into the net, and just after the half-hour mark, the Portugal international cut on to his left to hit a shot that found its way in off Sven Botman’s head.

Silva signed a one-year contract extension in September, but while his terms run until 2026, the 29-year-old has been the subject of long-running speculation over a move away.

“Everybody loves him,” Guardiola said of the midfielder. “He is really important for us and that he stays is really, really important.”

Newcastle ended City’s aspirations in the Carabao Cup in September with a 1-0 win at St James’ Park, but have since suffered home and away defeats in the Premier League to the reigning champions, and rarely threatened to trouble Guardiola’s side here, managing only two attempts at goals all game.

Manager Eddie Howe was pleased with how his defenders marshalled City’s attack and could only rue the deflected nature of the goals.

“Of course the goals are difficult to take, especially the first one with a big deflection to fly into the top corner,” Howe said. “That’s the football gods working against us in that respect. I thought the lads gave everything today.

“Manchester City are very difficult to play against at any time but when they’re in that kind of mood, they pick those players with a technical base, their aim was to keep possession and make it difficult for us. We’re trying to unsettle their rhythm, it’s a really delicate game and I thought we did OK.”

Defeat ensures Newcastle’s wait for a major domestic trophy will continue into a 70th year. They sit 10th in the Premier League, a long way from the side that finished fourth last term, but Howe is still targeting a return to European football.

“I don’t think we can feel sorry for ourselves,” Howe said.

“This season could have ended up very different, some of the big moments have gone against us, but we have to take responsibility for that.

“We will come back. The two-week break has come at a good time for us to let this result sink in and then focus on our last 10 games in the Premier League.”

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