Guardiola scotches treble talk and tells City youngsters to match Carson commitment

By Sports Desk March 10, 2022

Pep Guardiola dismissed the possibility of Manchester City winning a treble this season as "fairy tales" as he hailed Scott Carson as an inspiration to his young stars.

Veteran former England goalkeeper Carson made just his second appearance in almost three years for City as he came off the bench against Sporting CP in the Champions League on Wednesday.

City's goalless draw completed a 5-0 aggregate win over the Portuguese giants after the thumping win in Lisbon three weeks earlier, and that has only served to ramp up talk of a possible sweep of the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League titles.

Leading the English top flight and through to quarter-finals in the two knockout competitions, it is a rosy picture for City with three shots at silverware remaining.

Asked about that prospect in a news conference on Thursday, Guardiola said: "It doesn't motivate me, absolutely zero, lower than zero. It is fairy tales.

"The reality is tougher than you suggest with this kind of things. You should understand sport at a high level is so competitive, so difficult.

"What I'm happy with is we are in the quarter-finals, the best eight teams in Europe. It will be so tough, the opponent we are going to face, and I guess for the opponent it will be tough to face us.

"Step-by-step, we now recover and increase and improve our level and at the end, we will see."

Guardiola handed Champions League debuts to teenagers CJ Egan-Riley, James McAtee and Luke Mbete, while Fernandinho made his 100th appearance in the competition, the fourth Brazilian to reach that mark, following in the footsteps of Roberto Carlos (120), Dani Alves (111) and Marcelo (101).

The youngsters that City hope to keep bringing through from their academy, in the manner that Guardiola's former club Barcelona have cultivated youth talent down the years, have plenty of international stars to admire.

Guardiola made a point that 36-year-old Carson should be the player they watch, to learn how he values every moment of his City career.

"One of the best advice I could give to young players is stay around Scott Carson as much as possible in the locker room and on the pitch," Guardiola said.

"It's the best advice they can get, the best learnings they can get. You have to be there to know him. He's experienced enough, he lived many, many things."

Carson's surprise and popular cameo against Sporting gave him just a second appearance in the Champions League, a full 16 years and 338 days after he played for Liverpool against Juventus as a 19-year-old. That made it the largest gap between appearances for any player in the competition's history, and Carson pulled off a fine stop to stave off a possible home defeat.

"He's at the end of his career, so every second he's training and every minute he gets on the pitch and off the field in the locker room, he values it," Guardiola said.

"It's like young actors need to be with old actors on the set. They are wiser, and they have the values in the football profession."

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