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Squad fatigue, Erik ten Hag expectations, Grealish injury update – Every Word: Pep Guardiola’s pre-Manchester United press conference (Premier League)



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has openly discussed a wide range of subjects during the open section of his pre-Derby Day press conference on Friday afternoon.

City host rivals Manchester United whilst on a staggering 18-game unbeaten run spanning back to mid-December and prior to their FIFA Club World Cup success in Saudi Arabia towards the end of the calendar year.

Manchester City’s latest outing saw them run riot to victory in the Emirates FA Cup fifth round, dismissing of fellow Premier League side Luton Town with a 2-6 victory and a five-goal haul from star striker Erling Haaland, as well as four assists from Kevin De Bruyne.

That contest was however marred by another injury setback for Jack Grealish, sustaining another muscular problem during the early stages of his return from a previous setback undertaken in the UEFA Champions League last-16 first-leg.

The injury to Grealish was among a number of issues discussed by Pep Guardiola during his pre-match press conference at the City Football Academy on Friday afternoon, as well as his thoughts on Sunday afternoon’s opponents in the Manchester derby.

Here is every word from the open section of Pep Guardiola’s Manchester United preview this week!

On Jack Grealish fitness

“He will not be fit this weekend. When he comes back, I don’t know. Setbacks are always there in life, he will overcome it.”

On recovering before March international break

“No, I don’t think so. He has to recover well to use him as much as possible. I didn’t speak to Gareth (Southgate).”

On squad fatigue

“Tuesday to Sunday is a dream. Saturday to Tuesday with trips is a problem. Players were extraordinary against Luton. Two days off and now prepare against (Manchester) United.”

On expectations of Manchester United

“Always I expect the best of our opponents. The best performance of them is what I expect. My players know what I expect. I don’t talk one word what the opponents do. I respect (them) too much. When I say comments, people say ‘Pep say this..’ Not my intention. Enormous respect for the institution and Erik (ten Hag).

“Big clubs, you have to win. Not easy for United, an incredible period with Sir Alex. It’s not easy. The big clubs used to have more patience, now there is a lot of pressure. I don’t know the reason why, I’m not there.” 

On the excitement of the derby

“Were good with Jose (Mourinho), with Ole (Gunnar Solskjær), fighting, they were there. When I learn in my experience, more calm and relax. Don’t talk about many things. Tactic issue. Don’t talk about emotions. Relax and prepare as much as possible knowing the quality.

“They went to Luton and beat them, Wolves and beat them, Aston Villa to go and win a few weeks ago. They have the biggest quality. From one action they create something special with set pieces, transitions. Always have been demanding, when they play good, they will win. In 2024 they lost just one game, the consistency is there. Prepare tactically, what we have to do to get three points.

On Phil Foden and Erling Haaland’s record against Manchester United

“I don’t know what will happen, if I knew who would score, I would play them. I cannot see the future.”

On Manchester City’s success

“80s was Liverpool, 90s was United. The last decade, 11, 12 years (was Manchester City). The last 50-60 years no club dominated everything. Extend for many years what we are trying to do, especially the consistency that we proved at Luton. With respect to Rob Edwards and Luton, going there and performing that way is proof of what we do for many years.

“I didn’t do it alone, this success doesn’t depend on the manager. If people believe it’s just me, mistake. If opponents believe that it’s a big mistake. It’s the hierarchy, all people working at the club. I’m involved but not the only one.” 

On Manchester United challenging for a title

“Sir Jim Ratcliffe and others know the diagnosis of the club. If Sir Jim said they need two, three years to be there, who am I to say opposite? I’m sure they will work to close the gap. I’m not the right person to know it. If you ask me the diagnosis of my club, I will tell you.” 

On upcoming matches

“And Aston Villa. How nice. I prefer that than the opposite. Key players, we have 20 key players. I know you’re talking about but we have had key players out injured and still done well. So nice to do the fixtures, chance to get the quarter finals of Champions League, then Anfield, a chance against Newcastle – the fourth time this season – we work to arrive here to live these moments. United here, two days to prepare.”

Pep Guardiola’s embargoed press conference will be available on and on the official City Xtra YouTube channel from 10:30PM (UK) on Saturday night.