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Pep Guardiola urges Man Utd fans to join Man City title party - 'but they must wear blue'

·6-min read
Pep Guardiola urges Man Utd fans to join Man City title party - 'but they must wear blue' - REUTERS
Pep Guardiola urges Man Utd fans to join Man City title party - 'but they must wear blue' - REUTERS

Pep Guardiola has invited Manchester United supporters to join City fans in celebrating their title success, if they should hold off Liverpool in Sunday afternoon's season finale.

The relaxed City manager reacted with surprise to learn that many United fans may secretly be supporting City as they host Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon.

United’s historical enmity towards Liverpool will see many supporters back Guardiola’s team, if only to deny their Merseyside rivals another step towards what would be an unprecedented potential quadruple.

Just two weeks ago, Guardiola was claiming that the “whole country” was supporting Liverpool and willing City to fail in their bid for a fourth league title in five years.

But the City manager performed an about-turn in good-natured fashion ahead of their meeting with Steven Gerrard and Villa.

“Are you sure? Yeah? So United likes City more than Liverpool,” joked Guardiola. “Oh my God, I didn’t know it. Is it true?

“So I was wrong when I say everyone wants Liverpool in this country! I was wrong.

“Yeah, welcome. Welcome. If they want to join us in the street. But they have to wear the blue shirt, yeah. They have to wear it!”

Another City success on Sunday afternoon would see them retain the league title for the second time during Guardiola’s reign.

Latest standings 2021/22 (top five)

Aside from Chelsea - who retained their title under Jose Mourinho in 2006 - no other manager, apart from Sir Alex Ferguson, has managed to do so in Premier League history.

Seven of Guardiola’s players - Kevin De Bruyne, Gabriel Jesus, Ilkay Gundogan, Raheem Sterling, John Stones, Phil Foden and Kyle Walker - will be seeking their fourth league title on Sunday while an eighth, Fernandinho, is out for Premier League number five.

And Guardiola believes emulating Ferguson’s United will elevate his team to the level of some of United’s greatest squads.

“It will be great, of course it will be great,” he said. “You know when I arrived, the people here said the Premier League is so difficult, it is the toughest one.

“Just Sir Alex Ferguson with United was able to win three or four championships (in a row), four in five years.

“So when this happened, you realise the magnitude of United in this period that was able to do it many, many times.

“We are close to doing it or being part of that, and we have to try to take it. Being in this position, close to trying to do it.”

Guardiola happy to give new signing Haaland time to adjust to the City way

By Ian Whittell

Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland says goodbye to the fans after playing his last match - REUTERS
Borussia Dortmund's Erling Braut Haaland says goodbye to the fans after playing his last match - REUTERS

Pep Guardiola does not expect new signing Erling Haaland to make an immediate impact when he makes his Premier League debut next season.

The current league title is still hours away from being decided, as City prepare to face Aston Villa on Sunday afternoon while rivals Liverpool host Wolves.

But Guardiola’s ambitious, and wealthy, owners have already laid down a marker for next season, confirming the £51.2 million capture of Europe’s hottest young property.

He will join a City squad that will also welcome 22-year-old Argentinian forward or winger Julian Alvarez and which may yet make further high-profile signings in the summer transfer window.

 River Plate v Colo Colo - Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Buenos Aires, Argentina - May 19, 2022 River Plate's Julian Alvarez in action - REUTERS
River Plate v Colo Colo - Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti, Buenos Aires, Argentina - May 19, 2022 River Plate's Julian Alvarez in action - REUTERS

Yet, despite an astonishing goal-scoring record throughout his career, Haaland, 21, will not be under any pressure to make an instant impression with City in August, with Guardiola instead happy to wait for him to adapt to his new surroundings.

“I’m pretty sure, but to give you a real opinion I have to work with him,” he said.

“When he scores this amount of goals it's because he’s good. Especially important is that he is arriving in a new country, new house, have your friends - all these kinds of things he has to adjust.

“That’s why when he starts here he should have a good holiday, prepare well, come back here no injuries and start to work.

“Start to play; if it takes weeks, great. If it takes months, great. He hasn’t come here for two, three months, he’s come for many years, I hope.

“So if he needs more time, give him more time. We try to help him and I’m pretty sure he’ll try to help us so I don’t have any doubts about that.”

Haaland would not be the first high-profile Guardiola signing to take time to adapt to his gruelling management style.

Jack Grealish, signed for £100 million from Sunday's opponents Villa last summer, is the latest in a long list of players to find the transition challenging, with his three goals and 26 appearances on course to be his lowest league production since he was a 20-year-old in 2015-16.

Admittedly, Haaland’s astonishing goal-scoring record - 86 goals in 89 games for Borussia Dortmund and 15 in 17 appearances for the Norwegian national team - certainly suggests he is guaranteed success with a City team that has scored 96 goals so far this league campaign, despite not playing with a 'traditional' No 9.

'Our way to play is so simple'

And those figures help explain why Guardiola pays no heed to critics who question whether Haaland, very much an orthodox forward, can thrive in City’s system.

“I hear he’s not going to adapt to the way we play and I would like to ask: ‘What is the way we play?’” said the City manger.

“And I’m pretty sure they who ask this don’t know it. I’m pretty sure he will adapt well – like Julian is coming and we’re going to help him to adapt well. Always that happens.

“Players, when they are good - and normally they are in these type of clubs - they have good energy to see positives, understand we want to help them… our way to play is so simple, really.”

In the more immediate future, Guardiola is aiming for a fourth league title in five seasons with City on Sunday afternoon.

Personally, the Catalan is also one game from a 10th league title in his 13 years of senior management with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City - an astonishing record but one which Guardiola claims will not dull his, nor his team’s, desire and ambition next season.

“I would say if we had this energy this season and the previous seasons why should we not have this energy next season?” said Guardiola.

“At the start of next season it will be forgotten, what we have done, we will have new players, and I think the competition itself makes this energy.

“If you tell me now it starts tomorrow next season I’d say: ‘Oh no please, give me a break.’ But the moment we start the pre-season, new players and the first opponent and the second one and these kind of things, the energy is back.

“So I’m pretty sure it will be there again for us to try and be a good opponent for our opponent.”

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