Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi does not know whether his side have the squad depth required to cope with a hectic run of games.

The Seagulls’ European dream suffered a big blow on Wednesday night as they were beaten 3-1 at Nottingham Forest, where De Zerbi said his players lacked energy just three days after they lost the FA Cup semi-final to Manchester United on penalties.

They now have eight games to play in a month as they aim to qualify for European football for the first time in their history.

Asked whether his squad is light, the Italian replied: “I don’t know. For sure I am honest and I don’t want to speak in this way when we lose the game.

“I am proud of my players even though we lost. We will speak with (chairman) Tony (Bloom) at the end of the season. We are suffering too many injuries in this moment.

“I said this game was the most important game of the season. I knew the game was very, very, very tough. It was very tough for the energy but for the head too. The big teams are used to playing today, tomorrow, at four o’clock in the night, at nine o’clock in the morning, in the afternoon with the rain or sun. We are working on this.

“I think we can reach this level. I am speaking with Tony (Bloom). If we want to reach this level I think it is better to say I know the way. I will work hard to reach this level. I am not speaking about the table, I am speaking about the mentality.”

For Forest, victory gave their survival chances a much-needed shot in the arm as they climbed out of the bottom three.

Boss Steve Cooper was delighted that his side stuck to a plan to deliver a first three points in 12 games.

“We were never going to have a competition of possession or passes with them, because that wouldn’t have been the right plan,” Cooper said. “I asked the players at half-time to continue, not to get too frustrated – because some parts of the game they wouldn’t have enjoyed greatly – but I said they would get their rewards.

“We scored the second goal completely from the plan. The little box they play in midfield, with the centre-backs and the midfield players, is good, but if you do get it, it’s a really open pitch. We managed to take advantage of that.

“The players stuck to the plan brilliantly. It’s not as if we’ve been winning every week, so for the players to show that mentality and confidence in the game…We should take a lot of heart from that.”

Manchester City and United supporters travelling to the FA Cup final look set to face disruption after train drivers announced three fresh strikes in a long-running row over pay.

Members of Aslef will walk out on May 12 and 31 – and when Wembley hosts Manchester City and Manchester United on June 3.

The union said it has rejected a “risible” four per cent pay offer from the 16 train companies it remains in dispute with.

General secretary Mick Whelan said drivers have not had a pay rise at those companies since 2019.

He said on Thursday: “Our executive committee met this morning and rejected a risible proposal we received from the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

“The proposal – of just four per cent – was clearly not designed to be accepted as inflation is still running north of 10 per cent and our members at these companies have not had an increase for four years.

“The RDG, in turn, rejected our proposals to modernise Britain’s railways and help them run more efficiently, for passengers and for businesses, in the 21st century.

“Consequently, we have today announced three more days of strike action on Friday May 12, Wednesday May 31 and Saturday June 3 at the companies with which we are in dispute, and which are letting down passengers, and taxpayers, so badly.

“We are also withdrawing non-contractual overtime from Monday May 15 to Saturday 20 inclusive, as well as on Saturday May 13 and Thursday June 1.”

The train operating companies involved in the dispute are: Avanti West Coast, Chiltern Railways, CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, GTR Great Northern Thameslink, London North Eastern Railway, Northern Trains, Southeastern, Southern/Gatwick Express, South Western Railway, SWR depot drivers, SWR Island Line, TransPennine Express and West Midlands Trains.

The May 12 strike will be held the day before the Eurovision final in Liverpool.

A Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “This is disappointing news for our customers and staff, more strike action is totally unnecessary and will only heap more pressure on an industry already facing an acute financial crisis. Senselessly targeting both the final of Eurovision and the FA Cup final is disappointing for all those planning to attend.”

The PA news agency has contacted fan groups attached to the Manchester clubs for comment.

Wembley has become one of world football’s most revered football stadiums over the last 100 years, but only survived its infancy thanks to a Scotsman and some greyhounds.

The first FA Cup final at what was then called the Empire Stadium took place on April 28, 1923.

The stadium had been built in 300 days, at a cost of £750,000, for the following year’s British Empire Exhibition, which was held to demonstrate Britain’s enduring colonial strength in the wake of the First World War.

There were concerns over whether the 1923 final between Bolton and West Ham would even manage to draw a full house to the 125,000-capacity stadium, but ultimately it took mounted police to clear the pitch in order for the match to kick off due to overcrowding.

It has been estimated that well over 200,000 people gained access to the stadium for the match, which became known as ‘The White Horse Final’ after a light grey horse called Billy, ridden by policeman George Albert Scorey and who showed up white in the black and white images of the time, helped clear spectators from the pitch.

Bolton beat West Ham 2-0 in a match which kicked off around 45 minutes late.

Despite the popularity of that contest, the exhibition itself which followed in 1924 and 1925 was considered a commercial failure, and the stadium was all set for demolition had it not been for the intervention of two key individuals.

Sir James Stevenson, a Scot who was chairman of the exhibition committee, lobbied for the stadium to remain open, while Arthur Elvin stepped in to stop it going to the dogs by organising greyhound races on the stadium’s track, starting in 1927, which made Wembley financially viable.

Wembley is most closely associated with football but has hosted a myriad of other sports over the years – some more successfully than others.

The NFL has enjoyed great success in bringing its International Series of regular-season matches to the stadium, which has also hosted some enthralling boxing contests from Cassius Clay v Henry Cooper in 1963 to Anthony Joshua v Wladimir Klitschko in 2017.

An attempt to popularise ski jumping in the UK by hosting a Winter Sports Exhibition – in late May – featuring a 150-foot jump constructed out of scaffolding did not catch on quite so well, and appears set to remain a one-off.

In an era before football enjoyed blanket coverage, the FA Cup final at Wembley was for many years one of the only games to be regularly televised internationally, making it a venue players all around the world dreamt of playing at.

Pele, the Brazil great who died late last year, said it was his biggest regret that he never played a match at Wembley, which he described as “a cathedral of football”.

The old stadium’s place in English football folklore was secured when it played host to the 1966 World Cup final, with the home team winning the trophy thanks to a 4-2 extra-time victory over West Germany.

By the 1990s, however, there were fresh calls for the stadium, now beginning to show its age, to be bulldozed.

Playing host to England’s matches at Euro ’96, with ‘Three Lions’ ringing out from the stands, was the old stadium’s last great hurrah, with its final match a sad, soggy affair in October 2000 as England slipped to a 1-0 World Cup qualifying defeat to Germany which prompted the resignation of manager Kevin Keegan.

The rebuild, which cost over £700million, featured an arch to replace the famous Twin Towers as the stadium’s most eye-catching element.

It remains a go-to destination for national and international football events, and has already hosted two Champions League finals since it reopened in 2007.

What should have been one of its most memorable occasions turned into arguably its darkest day, as England lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy on penalties in July 2021.

The match was overshadowed by chaos outside and within the stadium. Individuals under the influence of drink and drugs created disorder, with around 2,000 people without tickets gaining entry.

Baroness Casey, who led an independent review into what went wrong on the day, highlighted a catalogue of “near-misses” which could have led to fatalities.

The final Wembley deserved came just over a year later, as England triumphed in extra time against Germany at Women’s Euro 2022.

The five UK and Ireland football associations are hoping to convince UEFA’s executive committee later this year to make Wembley the centrepiece of another Euros – this time the men’s competition in 2028.

Thanks to those who helped it through the uncertainty of its earliest days, the stadium could reasonably hope to still be hosting top-level sports in another 100 years’ time.

The FA Cup final between Manchester City and Manchester United on June 3 will kick off at 3pm, the PA news agency understands.

It will be the first time since 2011 that the showpiece match has kicked off in its traditional time slot.

The Metropolitan Police had advised the Football Association that it deemed the fixture high-risk and was not prepared to sanction a kick-off time any later than 4.45pm.

It is expected that the FA will confirm the kick-off time later on Wednesday afternoon.

Manchester United midfielder Bruno Fernandes is seemingly a fitness concern for the final weeks of the season after being photographed with a protective boot and crutches.

Fernandes suffered an ankle injury during Sunday's FA Cup semi-final penalties win over Brighton and Hove Albion, appearing to twist his foot awkwardly in the turf.

Although he was able to continue until his eventual withdrawal in extra time, Fernandes was seen limping on the touchline before full-time and during the shoot-out.

Now it would appear the damage he sustained was more significant than first thought, with the 28-year-old's wife posting a photo to Twitter on Monday showing him sitting on a sofa wearing a protective boot and having crutches within reach.

As such, it seems extremely unlikely he will be able to feature for United when they go to Tottenham on Thursday. They host Aston Villa three days later.

United have not provided any official updates about Fernandes' condition or availability, with Erik ten Hag not due to face the media until Wednesday.

Fernandes has been one of United's most reliable performers this season, with the Portugal international clearly considered key by Ten Hag given his 4,363 minutes played is over 600 more than any other outfield player in the squad.

He also leads United for chances created (146 – Christian Eriksen is second with 61), assists (11) and expected assists (14.4) – for the latter metric, Marcus Rashford is second with just 5.2.

Fernandes (21) is also one of just two United players to tally more than 11 goal involvements, with Rashford leading the way on 36.

United were last without Fernandes on Thursday, with the Red Devils losing 3-0 to Sevilla and suffering Europa League elimination in his absence.


Luke Shaw hailed the "amazing confidence" shown by Marcus Rashford and Jadon Sancho to take penalties in Manchester United's FA Cup semi-final shoot-out win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

Sancho and Rashford stepped up third and fourth respectively for United at Wembley, where the game finished 0-0 after extra time, and were both successful from 12 yards as United prevailed 7-6 on penalties.

The United team-mates, along with Arsenal's Bukayo Saka, suffered racist abuse on the back of missing penalties in England's shoot-out defeat to Italy at the same venue in the Euro 2020 final.

Shaw, who was on the scoresheet in that meeting with Italy, believes his international and club colleagues deserve huge praise for stepping up and converting in the tense showdown against Brighton.

"I was next to Jadon. I said, 'Whatever happens happens, just be confident. It's part of football, things happen, these things happen’," Shaw said.

"I think maybe what was playing on their minds are the things that come with it, the racism and stuff that they experienced last time.

"For me, they showed amazing confidence to step up and because the last time they took one in a shoot-out it was here and the memories that come with that.

"But I'm really happy for both of them to put themselves forward and take really good penalties."

Versatile defender Shaw was shifted to centre-back against Brighton to cover for the absences of suspended Harry Maguire and injured pair Lisandro Martinez and Raphael Varane.

The 27-year-old helped keep a clean sheet and, fitness depending, is certain to start next month's first ever FA Cup final between United and fierce rivals Manchester City.

And Shaw, who has won the EFL Cup and Europa League with United, insists he will never take appearing in major finals for granted after playing his part in the Red Devils' latest run to Wembley.

"As players we can never take anything for granted," he said. "Every day with this manager you have to be 100 per cent at it in training; around the place because he sets high standards. 

"If you don't meet them, you don't play no matter what the circumstances are – whether there's injuries, suspensions, it does not matter.

"So, for me, I don't take it for granted. Still, the back end of the season is the most important – that's when you win stuff, and we want to win this trophy so we have to give it everything."

Erik ten Hag expects Raphael Varane to return to fitness in time to feature in Manchester United's FA Cup final clash with cross-city rivals Manchester City.

Varane was substituted at half-time after sustaining an ankle injury during the first leg of United's Europa League quarter-final tie against Sevilla, which the Red Devils lost 5-2 on aggregate.

Varane's central defensive partner Lisandro Martinez suffered a season-ending metatarsal fracture in the same game, forcing Ten Hag to use a makeshift backline in recent matches.

With club captain Harry Maguire suspended, Luke Shaw partnered Victor Lindelof in the centre of defence as United reached a record-equalling 21st FA Cup final with Sunday's penalty shoot-out win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

United will now face treble-chasing rivals City in a Wembley Stadium final on June 3, and the Red Devils are hopeful of having Varane available.

Asked whether Varane could feature in United's second domestic cup final of the season, Ten Hag told talkSPORT: "I think so, yeah. Varane, for the cup final, he can return."

Varane has made a total of 27 starts for United this campaign, having also been sidelined with ankle and leg injuries prior to last year's World Cup.

United have fared well in Varane's absence, winning 20 of their 25 games without him in the starting lineup across all competitions (L5), compared to 16 of their 27 with the Frenchman involved from the off (D7 L4).

Manchester United will "do everything" to deny Manchester City a potential treble when they face their cross-city rivals in the FA Cup final, Erik ten Hag has promised.

United reached a record-equalling 21st FA Cup final with Sunday's penalty shoot-out victory over Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley Stadium, Solly March blazing over the crossbar as the rest of the 14 spot-kicks were converted. 

The two Manchester clubs will now face off in a major cup final for the first time on June 3, after a Riyad Mahrez hat-trick guided City to a 3-0 win over Sheffield United in the last four.

With City battling Arsenal in the Premier League title race and being drawn against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals, Pep Guardiola's team could yet collect three major trophies this term. 

Doing so would see them match the famous achievements of United's 1998-99 side, and Ten Hag knows how much the club's fanbase would relish denying City.

"I understand, of course, the feelings from the Manchester United fans about it," the Dutchman said.

"We will do everything to give them that, to give them the second trophy, everything that I have, everything the team have, everything the staff have, we will give everything to get that done.

"We can do it, because we proved it, but it's not an easy job. It's a great team, but we'll also have a great team and great players and we can beat them.

"More than 100 per cent, you can't do, so the fans can rely on that. We will give it and we will do it against every opponent, it doesn't matter who it is.

"Of course, we want to give that against City. We want to give the fans that, sure."

Having beaten Newcastle United to lift the EFL Cup in February, United have reached both domestic cup finals in the same season for just the third time. 

However, the Red Devils have never won both trophies in the same campaign, lifting the FA Cup but losing the EFL Cup showpiece game in the 1982-83 and 1993-94 seasons.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag paid tribute to David de Gea for bouncing back from a difficult game against Sevilla in Sunday's FA Cup semi-final penalties win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

De Gea was generally seen as culpable for all three of Sevilla's goals in Thursday's 3-0 defeat, which sealed United's elimination from the Europa League at the quarter-final stage.

But three days later he made several excellent saves to deny Brighton, with those stops ultimately contributing to the game going to penalties.

While De Gea never got particularly close to any of Brighton's spot-kicks, United did progress to the final thanks to emerging 7-6 victors, with Solly March blazing over before Victor Lindelof sealed the Seagulls' fate.

United's collective performance may not have been spectacular, but the improvement from Thursday was significant – including De Gea.

"I think he had two brilliant saves and know that he's a world-class keeper," Ten Hag said. "Thursday, he had a really bad day at the office, and it hurt.

"Really bad [day in the] office I have seen, but it's always when you are the keeper and you make mistakes, often you get penalised.

"But it doesn't mean that we have to go under. And also, we as a team, we let him down [against Sevilla] and we didn't fight back on Thursday.

"[Criticism] was justified on Thursday but, today, the lads deserve compliments and credit because they bounced back once again, they showed character.

"What we have to learn and improve, which must be our next step, is that if we have a setback in a game, we fight back in that same game, that we keep calm and fight back in that same game.

"We have to deal with setbacks and we can do it better but in between games, and it's not the first time, we do it very well."

Manchester City await United in the final, making it the first ever Manchester derby in the FA Cup showpiece.

United will go into the contest as considerable outsiders, though Ten Hag pointed to their 2-1 win in January's derby as evidence they can defeat Pep Guardiola's treble-chasers.

"We have proof that we can beat them but then we have to play the perfect game," Ten Hag continued.

"That was the most perfect game we played this season [winning the derby in January] but we have to go again.

"We know that but, first of all, we have to focus on different games because we have to be in the top four, to get into the Champions League for next season."

Manchester United will contest the first ever Manchester derby FA Cup final after squeezing past Brighton and Hove Albion 7-6 on penalties at the end of a 0-0 draw, Solly March's miss proving decisive.

Brighton had arguably been the better team through 120 minutes of play, but both they and United were wasteful in front of a tense Wembley crowd.

A high-level shoot-out looked as though it was going to go on a while until March's misstep, and Victor Lindelof duly capitalised to send United into a record-equalling 21st FA Cup final.

The EFL Cup winners will face rivals Manchester City for the crown, with United reaching both domestic cup finals in a single season for the first time since 1994.

Having endured a nightmare on Thursday, David de Gea provided an early reminder of what he can do when tipping a goal-bound Alexis Mac Allister free kick around the post.

It was not until the final stages of the first half that United enjoyed sustained threat.

Bruno Fernandes drilled agonisingly wide of the bottom-left corner; Christian Eriksen then drew an unorthodox save from Sanchez when his disappointingly tame effort failed to make the most of Marcus Rashford's cut-back.

United were on the ropes again at the start of the second half, De Gea denying Julio Enciso with a stunning save before Danny Welbeck headed over from close range.

But the Red Devils responded well.

Antony twice tested Robert Sanchez, and desperate Brighton defending prevented Casemiro getting a shot away after great work by Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

Extra time always looked likely thereafter, however, and the period yielded chances at both ends – a dreadful touch robbed Deniz Undav of a certain goal, Sanchez then did brilliantly to tip Rashford's deflected strike wide.

Penalties were inevitable and the standard of the kicks was exceptional, but March – a standout performer until then – sliced his effort well over and Lindelof coolly planted the winning effort into the top-right corner.

Erik ten Hag claimed Manchester United are now a "different team" to that which began his reign with a dismal defeat to Brighton and Hove Albion, ahead of Sunday's FA Cup semi-final against the same opponents.

Last August, Ten Hag became the first United boss to lose his first Premier League game in charge since Louis van Gaal in 2014, as Pascal Gross scored twice in Brighton's 2-1 win at Old Trafford.

That result was swiftly followed by a crushing 4-0 defeat at Brentford, but United have since recovered to lift the EFL Cup and lead the race for final two top-four places.

On Sunday, Brighton will attempt to deny United a place in a record-equalling 21st FA Cup final, and Ten Hag believes the Seagulls will be facing a much-improved team at Wembley Stadium.

"I've heard from many experts and the fans that we've made progress and developed," Ten Hag said. "We're a different team now, but we know we have steps to go. That's quite clear.

"I can speak after Seville, it's quite clear. No team always plays at the highest level, I know, but even if you don't play at the highest level, you still have to win. That is what we have to learn."

The FA Cup represents United's last chance to win a second piece of silverware in Ten Hag's debut campaign, following Thursday's dire Europa League elimination at the hands of Sevilla.

Having described United's performance in that game as "unacceptable", Ten Hag was asked whether he replicates Alex Ferguson's use of the 'hairdryer treatment' following poor displays.

"Sometimes yes, I can go strong in certain situations," he said. "It's a tool, but it's about the timing. 

"You need to know when to use it. As a coach, you can pick many communication styles, and this is one of them.

"[On Thursday], you could tell I was really mad. For me, it was so unacceptable. You can make a mistake, but you have to carry on.

"If you play in the quarter-final of the Europa League, you have to give everything and we didn't.

"For any club in my view, that is unacceptable. As a manager, I cannot accept that my team is not giving its best. I would never accept it and the players were made aware of this."

Riyad Mahrez's Wembley treble was the highlight of Manchester City's 3-0 FA Cup semi-final victory over Sheffield United, but he was more focused on avenging a different sort of hat-trick.

City had suffered defeat in the semi-finals of the competition for the past three years, part of a sequence that had seen them lose four out of five at Wembley – as many as they had in their first 18 at the ground since it reopened in 2007.

A cagey first half saw City head into the break just one goal ahead, with Mahrez on target, and he stole the spotlight in the second half to send the Championship promotion hopefuls packing.

His goals ensured he became the first player in history to score an FA Cup semi-final treble at Wembley and the first overall since Alex Dawson for Manchester United against Fulham in 1958.

However, the most important aspect for Mahrez was ensuring a previous City treble did not become an unprecedented quadruple.

"It's very good [to score a hat-trick] but the most important thing, after two or three years in a row where we always came here in the semi-final, we always lost and we didn't really play good. Today, we wanted to make sure we put in a good performance and got to the final," he told ITV Sport.

"It means a lot. Every season we start, with the team we have got and the coach we have got, we really want to go as far as we can in every competition.

"Getting into the final of the FA Cup is amazing in this country. Now we need to concentrate on the league and the next game against Arsenal."

City now turn their attention to the midweek tie against Arsenal in the Premier League, where victory would move them just two points behind the leaders with two games in hand.

Riyad Mahrez's hat-trick against Sheffield United in the FA Cup semi-final at Wembley ensured Manchester City's quest for a treble continued with a 3-0 win.

A resilient Blades defence was undone shortly before the break, Mahrez dispatching from the penalty spot after Daniel Jebbison's rash challenge on Bernardo Silva.

United's hopes of a second-half comeback were wiped away by the Algerian, with just six minutes separating his second and third efforts.

Also through to the Champions League semi-finals and five points behind Arsenal, whom they face on Wednesday, with a game in hand in the Premier League title race, City remain firmly in the hunt on three fronts.

The Blades had a glorious opportunity inside 90 seconds, John Egan flicking a header from a corner that found Iliman Ndiaye in space but he could only fire straight at Stefan Ortega.

Erling Haaland then had the ball in the back of the net after 15 minutes, smashing home from distance, but his celebrations were halted as the whistle had already blown for a foul, with Julian Alvarez then forcing a diving save from Wes Foderingham with his long-range curler.

An impressive defensive performance from the Championship side was undone four minutes before the break, Jebbison's clumsy challenge on Silva handing Mahrez an opportunity from the penalty spot, which he duly tucked into the bottom-right corner.

City's second came on the hour mark, Mahrez winning the ball at the halfway line from Max Lowe and marching straight through the Blades defence, which backed away and gifted him space to run into.

Mahrez completed his hat-trick six minutes later, firing home after Jack Grealish's cutback to put the result beyond any doubt and book City's spot in June's final.

What does it mean? City conquest continues

Pep Guardiola may continue to downplay City's chance of a winning the treble this season but it would take a brave man to bet against his side.

City never had to break a sweat in sealing a place in the showpiece against either Manchester United or Brighton and Hove Albion.

It caps off what has been a stellar week for City, who progressed past Bayern Munich in the Champions League and saw title rivals Arsenal slip up against Southampton in the Premier League.

Magical Mahrez

Though overshadowed by many of his attacking colleagues at City, the FA Cup is Mahrez's favoured competition with his hat-trick taking him to 11 direct goal involvements (nine goals, two assists) in his last nine matches.

Mahrez's treble was the first FA Cup semi-final hat-trick at Wembley and the first at this stage overall in the competition since Alex Dawson for Manchester United against Fulham in 1958.

Hidden Haaland

A tormenter of clubs across England and Europe this season, Sheffield United would have been relieved to have seen Haaland's involvement at Wembley heavily reduced.

The striker had just 12 touches of the ball, fewer than any starter for either team, with only one attempt, which was off target, during the game.

What's next?

City host Arsenal in what will billed as a potential title decider, while Sheffield United can seal promotion to the top-flight on the same day against West Brom.

Erik ten Hag expects his Manchester United players to show a stronger mentality and "earn the right to wear the shirt" after they crashed out of the Europa League with a whimper at Sevilla.

It was a horror show for the Red Devils in the second leg at Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Thursday as they were consigned to a 3-0 second-leg defeat, losing the quarter-final 5-2 on aggregate.

United shot themselves in the foot, Harry Maguire robbed for the first goal after taking a pass from David de Gea to gift Youssef En-Nesyri an early opener.

En-Nesyri later capitalised on terrible mistake from De Gea to complete the scoring after more poor defending gave Loic Bade the opportunity to score Sevilla's second goal.

United were abysmal with so much at stake and boss Ten Hag, who was appointed as boss a year ago on Friday, warned they must raise their standards ahead of an FA Cup semi-final against Brighton and Hove Albion at Wembley on Sunday.

Ten Hag said: "We can't deny it, it's mental, definitely, we have to learn that you keep going, you carry on. 

"This team what they can do very well is bounce back in between games, what they can do less is bounce back during a game to a setback. That is what we have to improve."

He added: "You have to acknowledge, it's the truth, we have to do better, I know that.

"I have to reach the players to do better in such circumstances, we deal better with such expectations, the demands on this team, we are Manchester United, they are high, we have to improve it, I have to reach the players and they have to step up."

Ten Hag says United remain a work in progress as they prepare for another huge cup tie.

He said: "I think we are always playing for our future as professional players. Every game is a test, every season is a test, you have to earn the right to wear the shirt.

"It's for me as a manager. We are in the same boat. During the season we have made huge progress. We have the experience, but we have a way to go.

"A good thing is Sunday is a huge opportunity, semi-final of the FA Cup, a better event you can't imagine, after that a lot of great games to go, we have to prove it and this group of players has to prove it."

Pep Guardiola will not entertain talk of a Manchester City treble until after they have won both the Premier League and the FA Cup, having been bemused by the suggestion they are "just 11 games" away.

City are through the semi-finals of both the FA Cup, playing Sheffield United on Saturday, and the Champions League, having eliminated Bayern Munich in the last eight this week.

As the league champions close on Arsenal at the top of the table, too, there is the potential for City to emulate rivals Manchester United's feat of 1999.

But Guardiola's side face a gruelling schedule, with the manager already complaining of fatigue following the Bayern game even before reaching a two-legged semi against Real Madrid.

For that reason, he sought to shut down the topic of the treble ahead of travelling to Wembley this weekend.

"I'm so happy you spent 10 questions before the first question about the treble," Guardiola said eight minutes into Friday's media briefing. "It was so nice.

"We will start to talk about the treble when we've won the Premier League and after we've won the FA Cup, before the final of the Champions League.

"Look how far away it is to start to talk about that."

The reporter asking the question replied: "But it's just 11 games, it's not long."

To that, a smirking Guardiola countered: "Oh, 'just', yes, 'just' 11 games. We are far away.

"I've said many times: how many times in this amazing country are trebles done? How many years? How many times? It's one. Our neighbours did it [once] in how many centuries?"

Asked if he was excited, Guardiola responded: "About the treble? Not at all."

City play Arsenal next in the Premier League on Wednesday, but their manager insisted he would not pick his team for Saturday with that game in mind.

Instead, he would be reflecting on the energy that was used in Munich, where Nathan Ake succumbed to an injury that will keep him out of this tie.

Even then, Guardiola is wary of a repeat of previous seasons, having exited the FA Cup at the semi-final stage in three straight years. In the past two, those defeats followed immediately after coming through a Champions League quarter-final.

"For Arsenal, we have four days; we have one more day than we have now," he said. "I would have loved to have played on Sunday, but I understand. United played yesterday, so that's why they have to play on Sunday.

"In the past, when I rotated the team, it was not because the next game was the FA Cup semi-final; it was just for the fatigue we had, with Atletico Madrid last season or Dortmund two seasons ago.

"It was away, after a demanding, demanding game, and that was the reason why. I have to evaluate with my backroom staff who is the best."

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