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Every Word: Pep Guardiola’s pre-Sheffield United press conference



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has addressed the media on the eve of his side’s FA Cup semi-final clash with Sheffield United.

City will look to reach their first cup final of the campaign by defeating the high-flying Championship side under the Wembley Stadium arch, and move one step closer to their second FA Cup triumph under Pep Guardiola.

Last time out, Manchester City booked their place in the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League, courtesy of a memorable night in Munich where Guardiola’s players closed out a 1-1 draw to progress via a 1-4 aggregate win.

The victory on Wednesday night in Germany means that Manchester City remain in contention to win three trophies during the months that remain, as they pursue glory in the Premier League, Champions League, and FA Cup.

Victory at the Allianz Arena, the fitness of Nathan Ake and Phil Foden, as well as the ineligibility of James McAtee and Tommy Doyle this weekend were among the talking points raised during Pep Guardiola’s address to the media on Friday afternoon.

Here is every word from the boss ahead of Manchester City’s journey to the capital!

On wanting to win the FA Cup again

“Hopefully we can have it. Last season we arrived here. In the last three or four years, we didn’t perform well. One reason is the fatigue, and this year we still have it. The Champions League quarter-final is so draining and we have to recover. Every season I have the feeling we’re not physically ready, but hopefully this time we will be.”

On whether Sheffield United are an easier semi-final opponent than Liverpool

“No, I don’t have that feeling. Sheffield, when I saw yesterday when we landed from Munich, play quite similar to when Chris Wilder (was there) in the first season. They are one or two games away from being promoted (to the Premier League).

“It will be an extremely difficult game tomorrow for the reasons I say before; the quality of the opponent. The set pieces, linking in the channels, link up with (Ollie) McBurnie. They are so aggressive in the channels. We will have to deserve to be in the final.”

On Tommy Doyle and James McAtee

“Tommy Doyle has been really good from the beginning and (James) McAtee struggled at the beginning but now is playing a lot of games. Unfortunately, they cannot play. We loan players to get experience and what better experience than the FA Cup semi final, playing against City. But the rule is the rule and they can not play.”

On the possibility of rotating his team this weekend

“I have to see, I have to smell how the players are doing today. After Munich, they couldn’t even celebrate because they were so tired. They didn’t have as much sequences on the ball to rest on the ball, they had to run a lot. We will train today and I will have to talk to some.

“Of course, they will lie and say they want to play, but we will have to make sure they’re in the best condition. It’s not just this game, but we have played many, many games every three, four days knowing if we lose we’re out. It’s fatigue. We will have to see.”

On mental fatigue

“On the other side, it’s amazing to be here knowing we can reach a final. When you have this desire to still be there, the fatigue converts to energy, something positive. We fight every game to be there. Human beings have an incredible ability to regenerate if the mind is positive.”

On the fitness of Nathan Ake and Phil Foden

“I don’t know. He (Nathan Ake) is not ready for tomorrow, but I don’t know the damage. I think this afternoon they do the final tests to see exactly what he has. (On Phil Foden) He was on the bench in Munich after two training sessions following two, three weeks without training. Every day that passes, he’ll be better.”

On now being more worried about Arsenal (H)

“No, no. I saw we have four days (until that game). One more day than we have now. We wanted to play on Sunday (vs Sheffield United) but I understand (Manchester) United played yesterday so they have to play on Sunday. When I rotate the team, it’s not because it’s an FA Cup semi-final, it’s because it was after a demanding, demanding game. I will have to debate with my staff what’s the best.”

On the possibility of a treble-winning season

“I’m so happy that you asked ten questions (today) without asking about the treble. The other journalists are not in the sky, that might be why. Look how far away (we are from the end of the season) before we talk about that.

“Just 11 games (to go). Yeah, yeah, just 11 games… We’re far away. I’ve said many times; how many times in this amazing country has a treble been done? It’s one. Our neighbours (Manchester United).

“(Getting excited) About the treble? Not at all.”

On Manchester City players’ celebrations in Munich

“Incredible, satisfied. Happy to be in the semi-finals three years in a row. People sit down, start to dream, a bit of music, go on their phones, hug, that’s it. We didn’t take any photos.”

On Erling Haaland using so few touches to score vs Bayern Munich

“It’s football. Football is not a programme, artificial intelligence, no. He has few touched because (Dayot) Upamecano slipped. I said before the game, ‘Erling, in the 60th minute, Upamecano is going to slip you will go through and score. This is going to happen.’

“The best way to score is with the first touch, because the goalkeeper and defenders aren’t ready. But sometimes you need touches because the situation decides what you need to do.”