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A Barcelona break, Erling Haaland fitness update, Jack Grealish plans: Every word from part two of Pep Guardiola’s Newcastle reaction



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has confirmed he will be making a return to Barcelona during the upcoming international break.

The City boss was speaking during the second part of his post-Newcastle reaction on Saturday evening, as the reigning FA Cup holders reached the semi-final of the competition with a comfortable 2-0 outing against Eddie Howe’s side.

A first-half brace from Bernardo Silva, assisted by Rodrigo and Ruben Dias, put the game beyond the reach of the travelling Magpies and set up a last-four meeting with Chelsea at Wembley Stadium midway through a manic April fixture list.

Speaking during the second-half of his post-match debrief with the media, Pep Guardiola covered a wide-range of subjects, including the fitness of Erling Haaland, as well as what he personally has planned for the upcoming international break.

Here is every single word from the boss during his final post-match press conference before a two-week break for international action this month!

On what he does during the international break

“Yeah, I will not watch the games. I will rest and when they arrive on Thursday, we will see which player survives or not. So I don’t know. Hopefully, it’s a wish (that they return injury-free), it’s difficult sometimes in that period giving all the players away for friendly games when we’re in this part of the season. But… the schedule is the schedule.”

On the possibility of three Wembley Stadium visits this season

“One step at a time. Now we have a final against Arsenal and now rest. I don’t want to think right now much in the future, honestly. It has been such an intense period, now the players change the environment which always is good this month. Some of them will be allowed with the families, staff will be with the families, and when we come back we have three days to prepare for the game against Arsenal and then… let’s go!”

On whether he will holiday

“No, no… I will not stay in Manchester (laughs). I will go to Catalunya, go to Barcelona.”

On whether there is a fitness concern over Erling Haaland

“No, today was the Erling (Haaland) I like to see. I like it. It was in the moments we didn’t find him a little bit more for the players from behind, with Lascelles and Botman jumping to Jeremy (Doku) and Phil (Foden), we should have used it a little bit more in the space. But sometimes it’s difficult to see during the game.”

On Jack Grealish

“Yeah, no he has 10 days to train. We have a plan for him to train, and he’ll be ready. So I said to the team, ‘Every three days we have a game! Every three days, three days, three days, three days’. What defines Premier Leagues, and of course what defines Champions Leagues, and everyone is going to help us, because no player can sustain every three days.

“But after Arsenal we have Aston Villa, and after Selhurst Park, Madrid – after Selhurst Park, London and you take a long time you have to go to Madrid three days later. Everyone will be needed to handle it. That’s why as much as they come back fit, the more chances we have to game-by-game to have success, because I don’t think much longer than that. Game-by-game, first Arsenal, and after we’ll see what happens.”

On whether Newcastle’s drop-off outlines the distance and challenge to match Manchester City’s consistent success

“Yeah, we have done it, Liverpool and ourselves. Arsenal joined us last season, and this season, before they were not there. And it’s a question of… I’ve not been there so I cannot judge Newcastle, and I wish him all the best for all the respect. So Eddie Howe and ourselves (competed) in Bournemouth, so how many battles we had.

“And Newcastle, they bring another step, another level and was there, but this was the first time that they play four competitions, and that means playing every three days, especially in the beginning, and when it is the first time it is not easy for any club, and it’s a question of… Again, I’ve not been there so I don’t know the reasons why, but I’m pretty sure they will take lessons about that because the potential is there.

“I think they had a lot of injuries, starting from (Nick) Pope the keeper and many important players. And when that happens and you have to play every three/four days, at the end it’s difficult. But the team I saw incredibly alive, men-to-men, they have incredibly fast, paced, quality players; Bruno Guimaraes, (Anthony) Gordon, and all the players are really, really good, experience with (Fabian) Schar.

“So last season was unbelievable, but last season they played one game a week, and this season playing a lot, and that is completely different and when you have experience, so you can handle the way of training, the minutes and many things, and when it’s the first time, I’m pretty sure they will learn their lesson, I’m pretty sure. And the decisions they’re going to take, I’m pretty sure to try to still be there.”