Connect with us


Fresh injury update, Real Madrid thoughts, Arsene Wenger dinner – Pep Guardiola’s pre-Newcastle press conference (part two)



| Last Updated:


Manchester City are just one win away from yet another Wembley Stadium visit this season, as they host Newcastle United in the Emirates FA Cup quarter-final.

City remain in contention to retain their historic Treble success of last season, and challenge for the latest edition of the FA Cup alongside their Premier League and UEFA Champions League pursuit.

A 1-1 draw against Liverpool at Anfield was the last outing, as a second-half penalty from Alexis Mac Allister cancelled out John Stones’ first-half effort, keeping both clubs behind Arsenal at the summit of the English top-flight.

Manchester City have also found out their fate in Europe’s premier club competition this week, with a quarter-final double-header against Real Madrid upcoming after the international break and a meeting with Mikel Arteta’s men on the final day of March.

Speaking ahead of the upcoming clash with Eddie Howe’s Newcastle on Saturday evening, plenty of Pep Guardiola’s pre-match discussion centred around the meeting with the Spanish giants, as well as the much-needed return of Jack Grealish to first-team training.

Following the conclusion of Pep Guardiola’s pre-match address with the media on Friday, here is every word from the Boss’ embargoed section at the City Football Academy!

On how big the win over Real Madrid was last season for the Club

“It doesn’t matter winning or not winning, of course it helps us for the Club for the fact that we have it. But facing Real Madrid is always the toughest challenge. Nobody can deny it. It’s an exceptional club, in this competition it controls many things for the experience they got in the past. We made, in the last years, steps and this is it.

“It will be so difficult, and like what happened last season there will be moments for them, there will be moments for us, as much longer we can keep our moments we will be closer and after the decisions, or moments, or whatever happens will decide. Hopefully we can arrive in the best moment.

“The club, and the mood will be there because the group of players is incredible, and try to do a good performance in Madrid, try to bring a good result here, and with our people, try to do a good game.”

On whether the Real Madrid established belief that Manchester City are at the very top level in European football

“To arrive in that level… I said before, we’ve arrived in a final, semi-final, and final; when that happens, you have to… Before when we arrived, I said many times… When I prepare the last-16 against Monaco in the first season, we had the feeling for the vibes in all the club that, ‘I don’t know if we are able to do it’. And we have to make that defeat, and defeats against Liverpool, and Tottenham, you have to live this experience. We were new.

“We were completely new to arrive in the last stages, and we struggled to go through the quarter-finals, and the moment we got semi-finals, ‘Oh we got the final’ and we are there. Sometimes you need a process for the new clubs, and in the last decade we have been installed there in that position, and what we want is to continue there.

“But we compete against not just Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, even Milan when they play, or Inter Milan, or elite clubs, PSG. PSG didn’t win (the Champions League) yet but always has been there. When you play these top clubs, you need time. The hierarchy had patience to give us, me, time to do it, and at the end we could be there and we want to continue there, knowing that Real Madrid is tough.

“But Barcelona would’ve been, Bayern Munich, or Arsenal, any club, Atletico Madrid – you saw the game, the second-leg with the passion and intensity against Inter Milan. This competition is really tough our opponents, so that’s why I was, ‘OK, our opponent is Real Madrid? OK’. We’re going to try again.”

On whether Jack Grealish has treated his injury differently this time

“He feels good. Yeah, maybe, we’ll see. Now we have that game (against Newcastle) and after we have two weeks that he’s going to work as good, as hard, and as clever as possible to when he comes back be ready. But the muscle is a muscle like it’s not like a hamstring, it’s another muscle.

“The doctor said it’s not a big influence on the others ones, that’s why the recovery is quicker, and that’s why he came back against Luton quicker. But of course he trained in the last two, three days really good, he feels good, and positive, and of course, maybe tomorrow we need him, and especially in these two weeks to work well, to when he comes back we can have the Jack that, this season, unfortunately we had a few, few times and can help us for the last part of the season.”

On how big Jack Grealish is going to be in the last months

“Well it would be unfair on his mates saying, ‘With Jack, it’s a better team’, because they have not been (together) almost all season, and we arrive tomorrow with the chance to… Always we dream to arrive until the last international break before the end of the season being in all competitions, and tomorrow we will prove if we are able to do it.

“And if we have done it, he helps us but not like last season. That’s why the most important thing is recover well from a minor injury, take a good condition, and help us just in case we need him. But I’m not going to tell you how important is Jack. Of course he is, a lot! But he has to be ready, and saying, ‘We play better than we was without him’ would be unfair because there a lot of players that fought incredibly during the season to be where we are.”

On injuries this season – more than last year

“No. They are perfect. We had five months without Kevin (De Bruyne), and two months (without Erling Haaland), but the rest comparing to other clubs and other teams, we are quite good again. We work really, really well again. Really good. It’s impossible to have a season without injuries. But I don’t have the feeling we had much.”

On Jack Grealish’s ‘special quality’ for the team

“I think everybody knows about the quality from Jack. He’s not a new player in the Premier League, playing many years for Aston Villa and here. He’s an exceptional player for many, many things and has the ability to make a lot of extra passes, and when it’s at his feet not just extra passes – dribbling, and assists, and sometimes goals.

“And he has to be fit and ready because the quality to keep the ball, and extra passes and making the team tighter and closer between each other defensively and offensively is really, really, really good.”

On why Jack Grealish has not been at his best level

“No, he has to have consistency in the trainings, consistency in the game time, consistency in no injuries, and after you get the best. When you have one, two, three weeks injured, and you don’t train as best in some moments and after it happens to be more difficult. He knows it, he knows it perfectly.”

On welcoming Arsene Wenger to the City Football Academy

“It was absolutely a pleasure. What can I say for Arsene? He’s like Sir Alex Ferguson, a legend from this in what he introduced in English football was, in that time, amazing and I think the legacy is still continuing in Arsenal. And he came from representing UEFA to give some awards to the players that they could not get in the gala, and after we are like gentlemens, we invited him to lunch. He didn’t pay, good wine, and yeah, it was nice.

“Always it’s nice to share moments when we are not in competition, not in rivalry, to share these thoughts. (Food from Tast?) No, no it was here. (Enjoyed it?) You have to ask him, but I think he didn’t complain. But I don’t know.”

On Jude Bellingham’s impact on Real Madrid

“Obviously the impact has been massive. It’s a different team from last season with his influence. It’s obvious. You have to try to discover what he does to control him.”

On whether handling emotional atmospheres is something the Manchester City team has to grow or learn from

“Always you can learn. Yeah, you’re right. But I give more credit to the quality of the opponents with what happened in Madrid or what happened in Liverpool. Sometimes we adjust or we say, ‘Ah we were not good’. Why can we not say they are (good). Their aggregate against the Prague team was 11-2. Liverpool have been, since I’ve been here, a fantastic team and what happened; we tried to be in control like we were for a long time in the game, but it happened.

“We tried less but they knew it. I’ve never been in Anfield, and there is no team in the world that can go to Anfield and during 90 minutes you are going to be (dominant), like in the Bernabeu, or like here. At the Etihad I’ve never seen a team 90 minutes controlling over us all the time. In the league it can happen, in the Champions League it can happen, there are momentums and how you behave in that momentum and defensively how you survive and in the good moments how you can score goals.

“In that level, today in modern football, you are not a team that is 180 minutes you will be there. Maturity is OK you suffered the last moments and there were moments they were better in Anfield last week, and there were moments when we were better in the beginning, in the last 10/15 minutes we were better, having chances. So this is what it is in this top level.”

On the ease or difficulty of coming up with new set-piece routines

“Yeah, we hadn’t done it before because it’s the first time we did it. So if you do it quite often, they will know it. But the guys who are specialists in that see or figure out one action and we apply it. Listen, every game we try to apply it and sometimes it doesn’t work, and that fortunately worked. But it’s not because of them or us, sometimes it happens. But every game, tomorrow we’re going to happen the same, against Newcastle we’re going to figure out what we can do on corners and free-kicks, how we can punish them. Every club does against us, and every team tries to do it.”