Guardiola gives De Bruyne update: “He hasn’t trained...”
Pep Guardiola is waiting to find out whether the Belgian midfielder will be able to take part in Tuesday’s evening session after sitting out the weekend win at Fulham.
Kevin de Bruyne’s fitness was the main topic in Pep Guardiola’s press conference as City gear up for the mid-week clash with West Ham in the Premier League. The Belgian missed Sunday’s 1-2 win at Fulham as well as Monday’s session and will be assessed when the squad is taken through their drills at the Etihad Campus this evening.
There was some positive news for the City manager, who has Nathan Aké back in full training. Arsenal have the chance to reclaim top spot if they beat Chelsea this evening but Guardiola’s team maintain the pressure at the summit and have a game in hand. While some may already be thinking about next week’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid, City have two games to get through before that - both against teams involved in the relegation battle, West Ham and Leeds and the Spanish coach warned in today’s press conference that, “Anything can happen”.
Nathan Aké and Kevin de Bruyne: “Nathan (Aké) trained with us yesterday, and feels good. And Kevin (de Bruyne) has started to move but he didn’t trained with the team. We have training in a few hours and we’ll know exactly how they feel. (Nathan) trained yesterday, he feels good. Training is at 4 o’clock″.
Erling Haaland’s 50 goals, could he break Dixie Dean’s all-time record? “Thank you for respecting my opinion. I appreciate it. Of course it’s good for him and for the team if breaks the record, it would be a good sign. The magnitude of the record is, for a long, long, long time no one has been able to break it. That means all of the records will be broken one day - himself or someone will break the one that Erling (Haaland) is going to set, because I’m pretty sure he’s going to score more goals in the Premier League before the end of the season”.
Would it make you proud for one of your players to break such a long-standing record? “No, it’s just expectations for now. I don’t know what’s going to happen in advance so... It’s a surprise for all of us, maybe not for him. In this difficult league, he said what he is doing so... At the same time, if he does it, it will mean success for the team”.
A lot of managers have been sacked in the Premier League recently, for someone like you, who has never been sacked, is the job getting more difficult? “Like every job, I think this kind of thing happened in the past in a lot of countries. I remember when I was a player the rumors, the expectations was here (in England), they give five or six-year contracts, whatever happens with the result - now it’s over. When a manager takes the job, he has to know that the results are good, there is a big possibility that you will be sacked. Nobody can escape that. The new ones and the old ones. We depend absolutely on results. All of the clubs have a lot of pressure, a lot of investments, there’s a big difference between being in the Premier League or being relegated - and all of the expectations on the big clubs to win the Champions League or be in the Champions League... Today, if you’re in this business you have to understand, you have to know that it doesn’t matter where you come from or who you are, if the results are not good, are in danger of losing your position as a manager”.
But if you know that you could be out of a job after 10 games, doesn’t that affect how you go about making tactical changes?
“Yeah, but you have to know it. Sometimes football is more about the chemistry that the tactics, where you build all the stuff, starting with the team. When the connection is good, it’s ok, you can continue. But sometimes, even doing the same, the connection is not good, the results don’t come... And everybody feels the pressure. We, the managers are not the only ones who feel the pressure, the CEOs, sports directors, the owners... The revenue, for what they invest, they want it back. As soon as you have two bad results, you are immediately criticised. Today it is the reality, when you start as a manager you know it. I’m sitting here, but if the results are no good I will be sacked. We can’t expect time to develop a project - that’s just a fairy tale and the manager has to think about that”.
Crazy schedule with games every three days. How is that for you as the manager? “I’m tired, but my legs aren’t - unlike the players. There is one month and one more week for sure, to fight for two more weeks... We’ve been playing like this for the last six or seven years, we’re used to it. It’s not the only time we played seven times in a month. It’s happened a lot of times. Everything is here (points to head), our mental strength is there. It is the best period we can live through. We’re not tired. If you are tired and you have positive thoughts, you are not tired. Now is another opportunity - there are just six games left, we have to play, recover and go for it. That’s all. If one player is tired, raise your hand and let us know, because if you don’t, then you are ready and you have to perform well for you and for your team mates to win the game”.
Do you expect Arsenal to retake top spot (the Gunners play Chelsea on Tuesday): “I don’t control their (Arsenal) results. I am too busy thinking about tomorrow’s game against West Ham. Maybe West Ham haven’t done as well as they expected this season, because the last two seasons with David Moyes have been exceptional, but that doesn’t mean the quality is not there. You saw what happened against Liverpool, and against us in the first game of the season - the quality is there. From set pieces they are perhaps one of the best, they scored three against Crystal Palace. The weapons are there, there are a good team - even if they haven’t had the season that they expected. I don’t have doubts. In one game, anything can happen in a match, so we have to be absolutely ready”.