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Cole Palmer’s exit, small clubs, not caring about others’ operations – Embargoed section: Pep Guardiola’s pre-Chelsea press conference part two



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It’s time for part two of Pep Guardiola’s pre-Chelsea press conference from Friday afternoonahead of this weekend’s Premier League meeting at Stamford Bridge.

Manchester City travel to west London to face Chelsea on Sunday afternoon, searching for their fifth consecutive victory across all competitions after recent wins over Bournemouth and BSC Young Boys at the Etihad Stadium.

The Sky Blues secured their place in the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for an 11th season on Tuesday evening, beating BSC Young Boys 3-0, courtesy of two goals from Erling Haaland and a slaloming solo strike from Phil Foden.

Pep Guardiola’s side have won all six meetings between themselves and Chelsea since losing the UEFA Champions League Final in 2021, and can cement their spot at the top of the Premier League table with another victory this weekend.

Sunday’s trip to Chelsea is the first of three major upcoming clashes for Manchester City either side of the November international break, with matches against emerging title rivals Liverpool and Tottenham on the horizon.

Manchester City are widely expected to be without John Stones for all three matches, after the Englishman suffered yet another hamstring problem during Tuesday’s victory in the Champions League.

Ahead of Sunday’s trip to Stamford Bridge, Pep Guardiola addressed the media at the City Football Academy on Friday, with part two of the Catalan’s pre-Chelsea press conference seeing the manager discuss a number of topics.

Here is every word from the boss ahead of Sunday’s clash in west London.

On Jack Grealish being continually kicked in matches

“He has to play his game. He’s a strong guy, he likes the physical contact. And when this happens, and the referees say he didn’t kick, stand up and next one, stand up and next one. It’s not necessary to… Him and everyone. So what I said, you can walk, you can run, okay run. And after we will complain, after the game go to the ice bath, and good pills, rest and eat, and recover for the next one.”

On the bravery in Jack Grealish’s game

“He’s so brave, yeah. He’s so brave. (For a little guy?) Little guy? He’s not little. (He’s not tall?) Strong, he’s really strong. It’s his game; so he likes physical contact, he’s aggressive, and we are really pleased. In the last games he’s playing really, really good. Today he made an incredible training session, the mentality is there, and he’s so important for us. Jack was maybe in the first year adapting a little bit, but last season especially was decisive for many things and now every time he is getting better.”

On whether he admires the fact Jack Grealish takes the kicking in matches and doesn’t react

“Sometimes… sometimes he reacts. I would like him to react less even. It’s not easy. He’s so emotionally in a good sense. Jack (Grealish) is, honestly, one of the most beloved guys we have in the locker room, everybody loves him. In terms of the communities, the charities, I saw some thousand, million examples how he takes care of the kids, the old people, always he stops to make a signatures, has some really real connections.

“Sometimes I go for this bubble that the professional people live; money, luxury, compliments, media, whatever. He’s incredibly down to earth, so nice, and I love to work with him a lot! For many, many aspects. He’s such a sensible person, he looks like you know Jack – he’s completely the opposite. He’s so sensible, close to his family, and he had problems with his family in the past and he’s a really, really nice guy. We love him so much!”

On whether the Manchester City defence sometimes doesn’t get credit for successes

“Of course, it’s one of the key points, defending well as a team, as high or as far from our goal. But you are right! Normally if you have enough credit or respect or whatever you want to say, they have it for us, but we cannot control what the media, or people (say), it’s more about attractive strikers, or midfielders, talented players.

“But I have the feeling that now we have defenders that enjoy defending. Defending well is an incredibly huge talent. Always we relate talent to skills, and dribbles, and this kind of thing. But when you see Ruben (Dias), or John (Stones) even, Kyle (Walker), Nathan (Ake) – all defenders – and Manu Akanji, Josko (Gvardiol), they enjoy defending, they enjoy winning duels, they enjoy blocking shots, and this they have a talent. We have many of that. And they know, because we tell them, and they know it from their mates how important, it’s decisive.

“Be solid behind. I said to the guys, okay Young Boys we beat them, but we didn’t concede one shot. Normally when you are a Treble winner, and you believe how good we are, you stop to do, or you don’t do, I said in the last press conference, uncomfortable things that you have to do because we are good. And after, you concede chances from any team, no matter where you are, and you concede goals. And when you don’t concede that is the best proof that still we are doing what we have to do.

“Of course we have defenders, but with Erling (Haaland) the first one, and everyone is committed to doing it, and this is one of the secrets… THE secret, maybe. With this incredible talent that they have individually to put a service for the other ones, that I have the feeling that, ‘If I don’t run, I will allow for my mates to run and 10 payers run, and I don’t want the 10 players to run. That’s why I have to run, to don’t allow to do that!’ Still they have it in their bones, still have that feeling today.

“But you have to continue because at the end it’s 11 games in the Premier League, tomorrow 12, but we are looking for the best to stay there at the top of the league or close, and qualify for the last stages of the Champions League, we won the European Super Cup, close we have the World Cup in Saudi Arabia. Yeah, keep going! We have a lot of nice challenges, nice games, nice competitions to still be alive and being there.”

On what it is like to have 100 per cent support from Manchester City during tough times in the past

“I said many times, that is the key secret. Everybody knows without the result you’re going to be fired, all the managers, but in the bad moments how they support me, support our staff, and everyone – that is the key point. We are on the same path. I’m talking about us.

“Sometimes you ask me about (Manchester) United on this, I don’t know what happens at United, I don’t know what happens at Chelsea. I would say, with all respect, I could not care less. It’s not my business at all. I don’t care, honestly. I’m pretty sure they try to do the best at every club but what I’m talking about, what we have done, it’s because we had bad moments. In bad moments I didn’t feel… Ok we can do better.

“I said many times, we can do better. And we have been stable as an organisation, as a club, not just a football team. And this means a lot for the people who are up top, to organise the stability of the club. The result of course, when you win a lot, a lot, this is easier. If you don’t get results, you don’t win. Today, modern football, not even if they’re your friends, not even those close to you are going to sustain you.

“But sometimes you have to reflect that you have good results because you have that. I’m pretty convinced that helps a lot, to have stability in the team, the players know exactly that everything is not going to move much. And after we push eachother a lot, I’ve been pushed a lot from my bosses and from my players, I’ve been pushed by them. They demand me to take good decisions and they do good things, and I push them. There’s no other secret than that.”

On whether he feels in a position where he is invincible at Manchester City

“No, no. I never felt, since I was a football player, when I was a manager, invincible, unbeatable – never, ever. When I play a Carabao Cup against League One teams, or Conference teams, always, always I prepare the games like I prepare Chelsea today and tomorrow. No, no, I take it seriously. I’m scared I’m going to lose, or I worry about something, or I have the warnings open, always I feel that. Never, never I felt it (invincible). Never.”

On whether he plays close attention to how players who leave him get on at their next clubs and throughout their career

“Yeah, of course I take a look, especially right now we’re going to play (against Raheem Sterling and Cole Palmer). I saw yesterday a couple of (Chelsea) games, today (Friday) I’m going to see another one, and of course I see how they are, and especially when they play. If they play, at the end they move from here because they want to play. If they play, the decision has been made good.

“So Raheem (Sterling) since he left played always, and Cole (Palmer) since he left is playing always, so the decision is good. They took a good decision. At the end we cannot stay with a lot of players.

“Cole when he arrived wanted to accept some processes, and after one or two years, ‘I don’t want to play here and I’m going to play (elsewhere)’. And I said, ‘Well Riyad (Mahrez) is leaving, you have a chance here!’, ‘No, no, I’m not going to play here, I want to leave!’, I said, ‘Ok, leave!’ He got what he wanted, it’s good for him. He’s a young player, he’s a big talent, huge talent, otherwise he would not be here. He has an incredible potential, he’s a nice lad, and he’s playing really good!”

On whether he has ever had a situation where Manchester City thought they can’t sell a play to one particular club

“Never, ever. From my point of view… I said many times, I give my opinion to the club but the club have to decide if the transfer suits good for both sides, for the player, for the clubs, but never, ever. Why? I think that means you are a small club. Big clubs they would not have fear for what happens, decisions are made for the benefit of all three parts; players, and both clubs… and agents, sometimes. Really, it’s not a problem.

“So, if they want to go to Chelsea, or (Manchester) United, or Liverpool, or whatever – what is the problem? The problem is they are happy to be there, the club is happy for the transfer, the clubs to buy the players are happy for the amount of money they want to spend, it’s fine. Another player comes, keep going, good spirits, good mood, and try to do it!”