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Joao Cancelo’s future, Bernardo Silva’s fitness, and growing supporter base – Pep Guardiola’s embargoed pre-Brighton press conference



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The future of outcast Manchester City defender Joao Cancelo was among the talking points in part two of Pep Guardiola’s address to the media this week.

Manchester City are returning to Premier League action following an almighty week both physically and mentally across competitions, after defeat and victory in the UEFA Champions League and Emirates FA Cup.

City’s hugely disappointing exit at the hands of Real Madrid on penalties saw the ultimate bounce back from the club, as they defeated Chelsea at Wembley Stadium to reach back-to-back FA Cup finals against Manchester United.

The schedule does not get any easier however, as Manchester City face two mammoth away trips in the space of just a few days as they look to move back into top spot above Arsenal and Liverpool with successive victories.

City travel to Brighton & Hove Albion on Thursday night, before turning their attentions to Nottingham Forest on Sunday afternoon, with just six games remaining for Pep Guardiola and his players in the top-flight this season.

Speaking ahead of Manchester City’s return to Premier League action with an away trip to Brighton & Hove Albion, here is every word from part two of Pep Guardiola’s address to the media on Wednesday afternoon.

On the FA Cup final against Manchester United

“I think it’s a big success for both clubs, two years in a row being in the FA Cup final. It’s a big success and we have time to prepare that game. Still we have six finals in the Premier League, and after we have one week to prepare for the final.”

On whether Manchester City have to be perfect in the Premier League

“Yeah, absolutely. They gave us a chance, the fact that they lost in the last weeks against Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, but we know exactly what we should do then, before those games, and now. We have to win all our games to be, at the end, have a chance in our hands to retain the title. Nothing changes for the fact that what we should do before, and now. Nothing changed.”

On whether he will start with Jack Grealish and bring Jeremy Doku on in more games moving forward

“We have done it in these last two games, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen in the next games. It depends on how we will wake up and my inspiration comes to my brain. So I don’t know. What is important is both, when they have played, they played really good. Jack (Grealish) has played good in these last two games against Madrid and Chelsea, and the impact from Jeremy (Doku), everyone saw it against Madrid and Chelsea.”

On whether Joao Cancelo has any future at Manchester City

“At the end of the season…”

On being ‘absolutely convinced’ now that, after Saturday, the Manchester City players want to win the Premier League as much as Arsenal/Liverpool

“No absolutely! Otherwise we would not be here. There are many, many games until you arrive in that position, after what we have done last season, it was exceptional, and the previous ones. It would not be possible, knowing that the difficulty is extreme, it would be really, really difficult because we have tough games; tomorrow the first, and then Nottingham (Forest) playing for relegation and Fulham away, like Fulham at home has been amazing all season.

“Yeah, it will be tough until the end, it’s one game at a time, we know exactly that if we lose, it will be so difficult to retain the title, and every game is different for the way they play, for the way you have to play, and go for it! It’s the only thing we can say. Just last Saturday they proved what the many difficulties we had, for especially the schedule and the timing of recovery after one game against Madrid, they were unbelievable. They were really good.”

On whether Manchester City’s players are 100 per cent fully recovered after ‘two days in the fridge’

“Yeah we will be ready. (Is two days enough?) Two days off because it was a tough calendar emotionally for many reasons, and being at home is always good. Yesterday was a little bit not perfect recovery, but hopefully today they can be good. We sleep at home, and tomorrow we fly to Brighton and try to understand the game that we have to play tomorrow.”

On whether Bernardo Silva is fit and available


On whether he can now start to see the finish line

“Not yet. It’s so tight, two opponents and how strong you saw yesterday Arsenal and… So, honestly I don’t think much more than Brighton, it’s being occupied in my mind and try to figure out how they are, they have one week/10 days to prepare that game. So I know a little bit Roberto (De Zerbi) how professional in all the details to find the weakness points that we can have, we have, so we it will be a really, really tough game. We have to be so, so…

“They’re going to bring us in ways and moments of the game that we are not used to, so in that moment you have to be strong and be patient, and at the same time try to bring them in a place that always they are uncomfortable. So, yeah, maybe it’s the toughest. I’m not saying the other ones are not, because of course imagine Spurs away or Fulham away, but for the way they play, it will be so difficult and you have to be ready.

(A team has more time to prepare than you, what?) “In the last years, always it happens. Teams who play international competitions, latter stages, the opponents in these stages have more time to prepare but we know it, it’s not knew, it’s not nothing. It’s not about what I said after the game against Chelsea; the people say, ‘Oh can he complain?’ I complained two months, one month ago when it was the draw, not now because we played against Madrid because we didn’t know the draw, we didn’t know it was extra-time, it was then.

“Maybe it’s for the audience, you know, how many spectators could see City/Chelsea. I don’t think so. There were more for Coventry/Man United for the game it was. It was an incredible spectacle, it was so nice the game… That is the FA Cup! Really. Everything can happen in this competition. That’s why for many years we’ve been in semi-finals, finals of the FA Cup, that means the consistency of that team. But we are used.

“In the last years, when you arrive in the last stages, always you have to deal with that. But we have done it, and absolutely it’s not a problem; as I said, I prefer to be in the semi-finals than don’t be, I prefer that I would love to be in the semi-finals of the Champions League, I prefer to have this tight schedule, I prefer to have this problem of less recovery, absolutely! I think the argument was clear. And the people don’t want to understand it, I’m sorry.”

On whether this season is more down to the determination and grit of Manchester City’s players, just not to lose and stay in games

“It has been every season. The determination to not lose has been for many years. When we won the battles, the mythical, the eternal battles against Liverpool, they are able to make 97 points and not win the Premier League, winning 13/14 games in a row, knowing that if we lose or draw, we will not be champions. More than that? It’s once again.

“But we have done it in the past; last season against Arsenal, the previous seasons, most of the times against Liverpool, sometimes against United, but United at the end they dropped. Especially Liverpool. And this season with Liverpool and Arsenal. So we have done there.

“People talk about the Treble last season; I don’t know how many finals, semi-finals in a row we have done in the FA Cup in the last seasons, maybe four or five in a row. That defines this club, this group of players. Four Carabao Cups in a row. That defines this club. Latter stages of the Champions League when we break that situation, and the way we compete in this competition, we didn’t lose one game this season. We are out but we didn’t lose one game.

“Even with that, and the problems we had, that every club has because every club has problems, and still with that we are there. So it’s just what I said; why don’t we try to extend one more week the chance? One more week? Tomorrow will be exactly one month until the end of the season, just four weeks.

“Tomorrow is 25 (April), and the 25th of next month we play the last game of the season against United in the FA Cup. So we will do everything that we have, I don’t know how much it is in our tank, but we will try.”

On performances not coming as easy than previous years

“Listen, the memories always deny something. Always when we compete with 100 points or the Treble, always we will lose. Because the memories always you dictate the past is always better than the present. But I have the feeling that we played really good. Against Chelsea, we played good? No.

“We were so tired, yeah, we could lose, yeah. But it could not be possible with the circumstances that we played, it was impossible. But we were there. We were patient and we were lucky in certain moments, we were good in other ones, and at the end we went through. But I think the level that we played has been really, really good this season.”

On what he means by a tough calendar ‘emotionally’

“Well, when we play a lot of games, and emotionally was in the last games. We played Madrid, it was really intense for many things, and we were not through and out of the Champions League when we did really well and after two or three days, of course it’s tired here (in the head), not just in the legs. Complaining more about tiredness here (in the head), seasons by seasons. These guys had three weeks off, one month.

“They don’t have much rest to recover. And the people sitting in the chairs, ‘How can you complain?’ I defend my players, I know what I’m talking about. Much, much better than the people outside. I know what I’m talking about, because I see my players from many, many years doing that and I know because the human beings has no limit, but has…

“So the science says you need certain time to recover many, many things, not just physicality, but mentally. And for many years we don’t give them, for many years. And even with that, still we are there. That’s why what I said; I’m really impressed because all the time I’m thinking they will fall down. This time? It will not be possible, and still they make it possible. That’s why when I will reflect on my period here, always I will admire this type of players for many years. They found a way, they find a way to still be there, and this is unbelievable.”

On how he controls emotions of the Manchester City players with the end of the season not far away

“No it’s the moment of don’t bother (them) much. As less we can see (eachother), it’s better. And energy, the day of the game, especially two hours before the game, start to be connected as much as possible and do everything during the game. The rest is OK, we are there, and don’t – some details but, don’t bother them much. And hopefully he can be distracted, because they are the first to know how close is everything, how close is the end of the season, and they do their best.”

On whether he understands people who don’t sympathise with clubs who then take players on pre-season tours

“Yeah, but we have to do it. They have to pay the salaries for the players and the manager, and make better stands and better facilities for the fans, or better… And to grow the club around the world, and all the fans around the world want to see us, and they have an income from that. It’s not easy this, you know.

“They have to make a resources. I would say I would love to not go to another continent to play, have one more week holidays, and train here, yeah, but we have to understand the clubs, not just Man City, all the clubs. They need that financial resources to be sustainable and to do it. And even for us, to go to another continent and to see how…

“I remember perfectly when I arrived here seven, eight years ago we were away and not much people followed us. Now when we won a lot for many, many years, there are more supporters and the supporters means a lot of things for the club. And it’s necessary to do it too, and that’s why you have to adapt. But I would not say that is the reason why the schedule is tight, I’m sorry but it’s not.”