It’s time for part two of Pep Guardiola’s pre-Tottenham press conference from Friday afternoon, ahead of this weekend’s Premier League meeting at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City are searching for their first Premier League win since early November after successive draws against Chelsea and Liverpool, with Trent Alexander-Arnold scoring in the 83rd minute to cancel out Erling Haaland’s strike last weekend.
Tottenham Hotspur visit the Etihad Stadium this weekend, with Ange Postecoglou’s men having lost three successive Premier League matches amidst an ongoing injury crisis following an outstanding start to the campaign.
Defeats to Chelsea, Wolves and Aston Villa have stalled Spurs’ impressive start to the campaign, with North London rivals Arsenal having moved four points clear at the top of the Premier League table.
Manchester City will have chance to close the gap back to one point with a victory on Sunday, and ahead of the clash, Pep Guardiola addressed the media at the City Football Academy on Friday, with part two of the Catalan’s pre-Tottenham press conference seeing the 52-year-old discuss a number of topics.
Here is every word from the boss ahead of Sunday’s clash!
On whether there was a risk of the players not wanting to hear his ‘happy flowers’ speech last season
“I don’t do the things for if they want to hear it or not. Listen, in my period here in these times, if you can’t say how many good things I’ve said to them publicly and privately, it’s a thousand times much, much more than the negative things I can say.
“I was incredibly honest; I felt that, and I say it. Maybe because we won, if we would lose I would not say anything. But after we won, the people accepted everything, and that was my feeling at that moment.
“I said it because I felt it; it’s not copy paste, it’s not okay now in November or in December I have to say something because the book is already written, no! I felt it, and I did it!”
On whether he thought that speech made a difference
“After? Because we won, we could believe it, but it’s not the truth. We could have done it completely differently.
“There is not an action you do that there is going to be an impact, you have to believe in that moment, I said to them privately and publicly and that’s all. Because we won, ‘Oh how brilliant was, is Pep!’ We could do it again and it did not work. We had that feeling that, ‘Ah we’re playing good, it’s nice, but we didn’t have nothing inside of us’. And our job, all the manager’s job is to say what really, really, really happened.
“If you like or don’t like to listen, it’s your problem. But we have to do it! We have to do what is put in front of me every single time. For example now, we conceded four goals against Chelsea, we conceded two avoidable goals (against RB Leipzig), ‘Oh we have a problem’. You can say, ‘Oh it doesn’t matter’. Okay; if we don’t solve it, we’re going to lose games.
“Otherwise, what we want is to try and win games, and we’re going to try to solve it.”
On whether the phrase ‘happy flowers’ is joked about by the Manchester City players
“I didn’t say it before! It came from the fast interview in that moment. Listen, even if it’s not I would say the English quote, they got it! They understood immediately. That is the point.”
On how he would describe the Manchester City team now
“I don’t know. I never think about it. Tomorrow (Sunday) after the game I will tell you. I don’t know who we are right now, I don’t know!”
On the importance of Manchester City fans remaining hungry
“No I don’t think so. Listen, the fans I would love them first to come, yes it’s a lot of effort so thank you so much. Second, we want them to enjoy and have fun and have one hour and 30 minutes in a good moment. That depends on us. When we play good, always they are there! It’s just to sometimes the situation is not going well when we were waiting for, it’s happened.
“In that moment, it’s not because the players don’t want it because they’ve proven for how many years. The consistency that your colleague spoke about is there, and in that moment we need them. When you are part of that, you are closer when the situation is not going well. That is the moment to do it.
“But of course, we won a lot, and in the future you have to understand that maybe, you have to understand in the mind, that this is an exception; it’s not normal to win the Treble, it’s not normal to win five Premier Leagues in six years. And you have to understand that, okay continue to enjoy but when the bad moments are coming in this season, or the next one, you have to be there.
“And I’m pretty sure they’ll be there because this is a club that came from Maine Road, and being from the middle of the table not fighting for the titles, and they were there all the time. I was not there, but the people talk about that to me, they were all the time there. But if it’s coming back a little bit down, come on, let’s go!
“What we have to do to come back there, to the top of the league and don’t be down, down for a long, long time, for many years, and this belongs of course to the hierarchy, the sporting directors, the managers, the players especially, to still be there!”
On whether it is important for the players that the Manchester City fans do not just sit back and allow themselves to be entertained
“The most important thing, and I know they know it otherwise it cannot be possible what we have done, the players always are there. Always. Even losing 0-2, still we run, still we fight, in the locker room they are, ‘Oh what do we have to do?!’ So I don’t have that feeling, and I think the people and the spectators know that.”
On whether feels there is something special about the Etihad Stadium at the moment, and whether there is a sense of invincibility
“No. We have an incredible record in the Champions League, in the Premier League as well, but I don’t have that feeling. Maybe not having that feeling helps to maintain the situation. When you believe that just because of the stadium you are going to win the game, you are wrong.
“Last game we were close to losing it, and against Liverpool it was 1-1, but yeah we feel comfortable. That is the truth. We feel, ‘Ok we are here, we can do it, good momentums will come and we can generate, when the situation is bad the players make a step forward, maybe in that moment the supporters support us a little bit more’. So yeah, we feel comfortable, but now I’m not thinking, ‘Ah because we play in that stadium we are going to win against Spurs’, it’s completely the opposite.
“It’s, ‘Oh they do something different to what we are used to, what do we have to do to solve it?’ We’ll struggle to make a build-up, they have the ability to make many, many good things in the process, when the ball is outside to the wingers they have incredible runners from everywhere.
“You have to understand the game, and after put in the heart again, put our desire to say, ‘If we want to be still close to Arsenal, to be at the top of the league, to be there’, and that happens to win games, and win games. And on Sunday I think will not be an exception.”
On how Manchester City have adapted to John Stones’ absence
“Quite well. We need him for playing, or for minutes, or rotating the players, we need him, yes or yes.
But Manu (Akanji) when he played there played really, really good. Against, for example, Young Boys away, Rico (Lewis) played good there, really, really good.
“We adapted quite well, otherwise we would not be where we are, but the news that he is coming back is really, really good for us!”
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