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Omar Berrada’s Manchester United legend status, transfer business with Old Trafford, Kalvin Phillips’ future – Embargoed section: Pep Guardiola’s pre-Tottenham press conference part two



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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has spoken to the media ahead of Friday’s FA Cup fourth round clash against Tottenham.

The current FA Cup holders travel to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in the fourth round of the competition this weekend, with Pep Guardiola’s side having failed to win and score on any of their previous five visits to the North London club.

Manchester City booked their place in the fourth round with a sweeping 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town at the Etihad Stadium earlier this month, with Phil Foden, Julian Alvarez, Jeremy Doku and Oscar Bobb all netting against the Championship side.

City fell to a 3-3 draw against Tottenham in the Premier League last month, as Dejan Kulusevski scored a late equaliser at the Etihad Stadium to secure a surprise point for Ange Postecoglou’s side.

Spurs, who are just three points behind Manchester City in the Premier League table, have welcomed back James Maddison ahead of Friday night’s FA Cup tie, meanwhile both John Stones and Kevin De Bruyne could feature for the Sky Blues.

Erling Haaland returned to training during Manchester City’s recent warm-weather training camp in Abu Dhabi, but the 23-year-old striker’s fitness is not quite up to the standards needed for competitive match action.

Here is every word from part two of Pep Guardiola’s pre-match press conference ahead of a huge tie in England’s most prestigious club cup competition!

On the benefits of Abu Dhabi

“Yeah, really good. You see my tan?”

On whether Kevin De Bruyne is ready to start for Manchester City

“Yeah. He’s ready. He was ready at Newcastle as well. But always with these processes, the same with Erling (Haaland) when he comes back, I don’t think it’s for 90 minutes but of course it’s really, really soon to play from the beginning but the most important is he trained really, really well in Abu Dhabi and every training session here as well.

“This is the most important thing, accumulating training sessions, recovery sessions, and his leg is behaving well. He has to continue to work on and off the pitch in what he has to do to prevent (injury) more, but he’s good.”

On what the squad got up to in Abu Dhabi

“It’s being together; we were making dinners together, we made really good training sessions in a good environment that we know quite well, the country of our owners that always takes care of us really well. We were together and made some ceremonies, and that’s all.

“It was a short time because we play tomorrow, otherwise we would’ve stayed one or two more days, but it was fine to change a little bit, always was positive for us. The people are fresh and come back home.”

On the impact of these sorts of breaks on the squad

“The impact is good but it will be good if we win and the people will say it was not good just in case we don’t win. The impact is good whatever happens from now on, tomorrow’s game or in the future. In that period, here it’s cold, we don’t have games, we had the opportunity. Most of the teams, I heard other teams had been in Dubai and other ones, it’s typical to do it in the past, the people take a break when the calendar allows us to do it, and it’s what we have done.”

On whether Manchester City now have to change their approach to Erling Haaland following his injury problem

“It’s a bone. At the end we thought it was a little bit less, but at the end it was a little bit of a fracture of the bone and the bone is not a muscular issue that you can do a little bit and come back a little bit (sooner). When you have this kind of injuries, it is a question of time. If the people say between six to eight weeks, it’s between six to eight weeks!

“It’s not about as much as you work, as much you go to Abu Dhabi or don’t go to Abu Dhabi it will be short. The bone needs time to close, to make his procedure, and now he’s at the end, I think it will be eight weeks now, almost two months this weekend or next week. So it’s the process, he feels good, now he needs time to take the rhythm and we’ll start to give him minutes when he’ll be fit.”

On whether the pain in Erling Haaland’s bone has gone now

“In Abu Dhabi and here, in the last week or 10 days, he doesn’t feel anything. So that is a good way. When we came back, after two or three sessions, he felt a little bit of disturbance and that’s why we were a little bit cautious after we waited a lot of time, in December he could not play for a long time to try to avoid it, and now he feels good and now we give him three more or four days and hopefully in Burnley he can play some minutes, his first minutes, we will see.”

On the importance of Txiki Begiristain at Manchester City and for him to stay long-term

“A lot! If you take a look about all the clubs that have a big success, they have the same hierarchy, sporting directors, managers for a long time! When that happens, you have – at the big clubs – success. Trying to change sport directors, change managers, it’s more difficult because to build something takes time.

“At the big clubs, you don’t have time. If they believe, if the hierarchy believes in the sporting director’s job, and the sporting director with the manager, and the manager with the players that they have at their disposal, and you lose a game, it’s part of the (football). But you know exactly what you have to do, at the end, Txiki (Begiristain) has been massively important at this club, he had been before I arrived, and it was stable the club.

“He has been really, really important in these years, it’s part of the norm the success that we had in terms of results, and many things, and Txiki has been so important.”

On whether it is taken for granted that Txiki Begiristain will be at Manchester City forever

“Forever? I don’t know, it’s a question for him! Always I ask him, come on help me to take more responsibility with the media, sometimes appears and goes there to talk a little bit, but he’s so shy!

“He doesn’t want behind-the-scenes, and all the shots and weapons are directed to me! He doesn’t want it once, but it is what it is, the same as it was in Barcelona. He likes that position, and I respect him a lot. Apart from that, he’s a close friend, we played and worked together in Barcelona, so we met eachother since I don’t know, 25 or 30 years. He’s more calm, and I’m more energetic, so this balance helps us to work perfectly.”

On whether there has been a situation in his career similar to the record at Tottenham’s new stadium

“No! It happened at White Hart Lane, not just this stadium. In my opinion, they are an exceptional team since Mauricio Pochettino was their manager, and all the managers gone, always they have exceptional players.

“Always I think why they are not able to be at the last stages – they were in the final of the Champions League a few years ago – but they’ve been in Champions League qualification many years, a nice stadium, historical club, it’s a fantastic club, always I’ve had the feeling that the players are really, really good.

“But when I analyse the performance, you see what we create, what we concede, some mistakes or transitions, it’s the same or quite similar to what happened in our home game here. We played really good but we are not able to win. It happens many times, and hopefully we can break it. We know that before in home or away games, playing them in Premier League, the Carabao Cup, Champions League we played two games (against them), but now it’s the FA Cup one game, so we have to play good to score goals, otherwise we will not continue in this competition.”

On whether Manchester City have done better without Kevin De Bruyne that he expected

“Yeah, we are stronger with Kevin (De Bruyne), we are stronger with Erling (Haaland), but what can we do? Cry, and wait five months? We have to move forward, and we have done! I’m a big fan of not finding much excuses in those terms. We don’t have that situation, ok it is what it is!

“I would prefer (not to), honestly. But take the benefits, and maybe his mind is clearer after playing years and years, a lot of games, so he’s fresh and now be positive and he’s back and Erling is back soon, John (Stones) as well, and now we start the second part of the season that we now, start to play competitions.

“If we lose games in the Premier League, maybe we won’t have time to recover, losing games in the Champions League knock-out stage soon around the corner and FA Cup and we are out of competitions. So we now the reality, and we travel tomorrow to London to do a good game and try to go through.”

On whether it is possible for Kalvin Phillips to go to West Ham, play a lot, play well, and have a bigger role at Manchester City

“Yeah, why not?”

On whether it’s a case of Kalvin Phillips being a very good player that just doesn’t fit Manchester City

“He has to play to make me realise how wrong I was! For the guys that don’t behave well, I don’t care. But in this type of person, and how he helps us in every training session and the minutes he played and always how he’s loved, always I feel ‘What could I do more?’ Hopefully he can find the environment to play regularly, and of course, why not (come back to Manchester City in a bigger role this summer)?!”

On the concern amongst himself, Txiki Begiristain, Ferran Soriano, and Khaldoon Al Mubarak of Omar Berrada’s knowledge/expertise of Manchester City taken to Manchester United and weaken City and strengthen United

“Obviously Omar (Berrada’s) knowledge goes to United, his knowledge! That’s the reality. When you buy a player from another club, you bought the knowledge that this player had in the past with another managers, another teammates – that is normal.

“But in these clubs, these kind of situations happen, and what the club is going to do is move forward, and they will find a way to replace him and we’ll continue because the new guy is coming, maybe from here, I don’t know, Ferran (Soriano) will decide, Khaldoon (Al Mubarak) will decide, the guys will be well prepared.

“And we will adapt, the people will adjust to the new knowledge of this person and move forward. But it’s normal. Always we learn, the club learned a lot from Omar, but Omar learned a lot from the club. And this combination now goes to United.”

On Omar Berrada taking a lot of Manchester City’s secrets

“Yeah but Kevin De Bruyne is still in Man City, De Bruyne will play here. Erling Haaland will play here. So at the end it’s not simple like that *clicks fingers*, you know that? Otherwise, with the power of United, they would’ve done it before.

“Maybe United thinks with this person everything is going to change, congratulations! So I don’t know what’s going to happen. I don’t know. He’s a lovely person, an incredible character, incredible professional, I wish him… Yesterday I saw him, we hugged eachother and wished him all the best, deeply, I wish him all the best, because he’s a fantastic person.

“What can I say? But I don’t know whether doing this *clicking fingers* and everything is going to be sorted, and works. If this happens, oh my god, they have to make a stand for Omar Berrada in the future, if this happens.”

On whether there will be a time when Manchester United and Manchester City will deal directly over transfers

“Yeah, why not? If one person is unhappy here and wants to go to United and their players and they have a deal for the right price, and three four parties agree, why not? What is the problem? If Omar (Berrada) is unhappy here and wants to go there, they have to go!

“What can we do? There’s nothing wrong with that. When the clubs, in transfers, always it happens these kind of situations. If we want a player from United, and United agrees to sell, and the player wants to come, and they arrive to agree over a transfer, why should we not do it? What is the problem? Winning or losing does not depend on just this specific things, for MANY things! To win consistently, many things happen! This is what I believe.”

On why Kalvin Phillips has been unable to make an impact at Manchester City

“From my decisions. And I need a typical player for that (role)…”

On whether it is a stylistic issue

“Yeah. In that position we need another thing that sometimes myself struggle a little bit to see in him, that’s all. But the quality is there, are there, otherwise he would not be in the (England) national team, and the incredible things he did at Leeds United. The quality is there, it’s just I regret more myself than Kalvin.

“Other players I would say, but how he behaves and tried, it’s my responsibility. At the end I have to be here to help the players to develop, to help the players to be better players, to suit what you want to do, and I was not able to do it.”

On whether he can explain what specifically he needed to understand why Kalvin Phillips has not worked at Manchester City

“He has not got to do like Rodri. Rodri is unique, and the other players are unique, they have their own qualities and it didn’t happen. That’s all.”