Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has spoken to the media ahead of Sunday’s Premier League clash against rivals Manchester United at Old Trafford.
The Treble winners travel to Old Trafford looking for their first away win against Manchester United since 2021, and potentially needing to close a five-point gap at the top of the Premier League as Tottenham play before City this weekend.
Manchester City bounced back from successive Premier League defeats with a 2-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion last weekend, and secured their third consecutive win in the UEFA Champions League in midweek, beating BSC Young Boys 1-3 in Switzerland.
Erling Haaland netted in both victories, scoring twice in the second-half on Wednesday night at the Wankdorf Stadium in Bern, and during the first-half against Roberto De Zerbi’s Brighton at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City have won all three matches in their Champions League group so far this season, meanwhile Manchester United registered their first win in the competition in midweek by beating FC Copenhagen 1-0 in Group A.
Erik ten Hag’s side, who suffered a 2-1 loss to Manchester City in the Emirates FA Cup Final back in June, have lost four Premier League matches so far this season, but are unbeaten in their last three matches across all competitions.
The Blues suffered a 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford last season, however thumped Manchester United at the Etihad Stadium winning 6-3, with Erling Haaland and Phil Foden both netting memorable hat-tricks.
Manuel Akanji will be unavailable for Sunday afternoon’s clash at Old Trafford due to suspension having been sent off at the Etihad Stadium last weekend through a second yellow card late in the content.
Ahead of Sunday’s derby clash, Pep Guardiola has addressed the media at the City Football Academy as part of the open section of his pre-match media duties.
On Sunday’s game being a chance for the two teams to come together and celebrate the life of Sir Bobby Charlton
“Definitely. This is going to happen, definitely.”
On whether he likes going to Old Trafford
“Old Trafford, when I was at Barca and Bayern (Munich), when I travel to Old Trafford, always (it was) special. (A) Special occasion, special place. It’s special for our fans, but it’s just a football game. It’s not a final. The match won’t define the season, there’s still 30 games to go but we have to be focussed.”
On the quality of Manchester United
“They are always dangerous. It doesn’t matter the managers – and I have seen a few – they are always a tough opponent with the quality of the individual, the character, the momentum. They have the ability not to be on top and then just score goals. We know their quality, no doubts about that.”
On the rivalry between Manchester City and Manchester United
“It’s okay, a good rivalry. No big issues happened in my eight seasons here. We’ve won games, lost games, the FA Cup final was special because we win and go to the treble. It was so important to go to Istanbul with the challenge to do what we have done.”
On Facundo Pellistri’s comments about a lack of Manchester City shirts in Manchester
“I will speak with the Puma department, and ask, ‘What happened? Why we don’t have shirts (in Manchester)?’ It’s ok. If this guy and his girlfriend believe that, it’s fine.”
On Manchester City banning two minors for offensive chanting towards Sir Bobby Charlton at the Etihad Stadium last weekend
“They don’t represent us. Alcohol makes bad things in people. Mike Summerbee going to Old Trafford to sign the book represents us. We have huge respect to Manchester United and we prove it, losing or winning. We have a lot of respect, especially for an iconic figure like Sir Bobby Charlton. Tomorrow we will be part of that. We send our condolences to United and English football.”
On which Premier League title challenger has impressed him most
“It’s too early. All the teams are there because the teams are a little bit behind, (they) can be there. When you play just nine games, many things can happen from my experience. We have been behind with few points in February and March and have been able to win at the end.
“We just have to improve our football game and mentality. I want to see how our mentality on Sunday is at Old Trafford. We won a lot and it’s not about winning now, what is going to happen. It’s not about that, I want to see my team in big scenarios like it is. The right mentality, the right way.
“All the time when you get the fixtures, (Manchester) United are a contender. Ask me a question with nine games left and I will ask if they are contenders but late October, it is not going to happen.”
On his plans for Jack Grealish
“If he played like he played in Switzerland, I said before, we trust a lot in him and his ability. He has to fight to play as best as possible in every single action and game. We need him, we need everyone and I’m very pleased for the game he played (against BSC Young Boys).”
On Andre Onana
“I remember we have a common friend who spoke very highly of him (at Barcelona) but personally I met him in Amsterdam. He’s an exceptional player and now at (Manchester) United.
“Everyone needs time (to adapt to the Premier League), not just the managers but players, keepers. Everyone. Sometimes people are quicker but I have a high opinion of him as a keeper.”
On whether he is worried that Andre Onana will play against Manchester City like he did in the UEFA Champions League final for Inter
“Hopefully not, hopefully we can beat him, but before the game I always expect the best of the players we are going to face. I prefer to see the strengths rather than the weaknesses they have. He saved a penalty in the last minute (against FC Copenhagen) which helped them to stay in contention to qualify for the (UEFA Champions League) last-16. Mentally it’s a good boost for them.”
On Argentina and Lionel Messi as well as their mental strength and Manchester City’s mental strength in key moments
“With the intuition and quality that (Lionel) Messi has to analyse what happened on the pitch in world football and he has been on both sides, why should I not believe him (that they are the best team ever)? I cannot talk about Argentina because I’m not there. He was in Argentina and Barcelona, so it’s nice.
“If we (his Barcelona side of 2008) are close to the world champions, it’s nice. I’m really surprised in tough moments like the quarter-final against Holland when they were two up and immediately it is 2-2. Normally the teams go down in knock-out games. Emotions are so important, how they handled their emotions.
“They played better than before. The first half they played in the final against France is so difficult to find. It was one of the best finals I have seen. The reaction from France was fantastic but in that moment you see the trophy there, immediately at 2-0 it was 2-2. Teams can be destroyed but they reacted in extra time better than ever. That is so difficult.
“That’s why they’re champions. You’re not world champions if you don’t have something special in all departments but also the mentality. We were able to win the Treble last season because we were so strong. We were behind Arsenal and it is how strong we were. I don’t have doubts about the team that we will do it again. “
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