Guardiola: “You encounter racism everywhere, but the more you travel, the more you see that we are all the same...”
The Manchester City coach spoke from the heart about racism and the insults aimed at Vinicius.
Manchester City still have the final game of the Premier League season to play but Sunday’s trip to Brentford - or the team’s chances to clinch the treble featured little in Pep Guardiola’s pre-match press conference. The Catalan coach was asked for his opinions on the insults aimed at Real Madrid winger and whether he thought racism is an endemic problem in Spain or Spanish sport. “The problem is that there is racism everywhere you go, not just in Spain with Vinicius Júnior,” he told reporters.
Vinicius targetted by fans, what are your recollections of your time in Spain and what can LaLiga learn from the Premier League? “They should (learn from the Premier League’s stance on racism). Here they are so, so strict. But they know what they have to do. But racism is a problem everywhere, not in just one specific place, it’s everywhere... We have, I would say bad educated people thinking that we are better than our neighbours, we are better than the other one - that everyone, from where we come from, for all generations, everywhere... Our ancestors, or own people come from migrants, from wars, from dictatorships that you have to move from, to foreign countries. After that, we build families there and have to come back from where you’re born. Society is like that. But the problem is that racism is everywhere - and not just for the gender or the colour [of someone’s skin]. For the attitude. We believe that our country is better than the other one, that our language is better than the other one, and however much you fly, travel or know, until you realise that we are all the same. With the same fears, with the same good things. It’s just a question of accepting the diversity, as a strength, as a human being. But still, even now, we are far far away from that - a long, long way away from that. Hopefully, it can be one step to getting better in Spain but I’m not really optimistic...
”There are a lot, a lot, a lot of black people stepping forward to defend what they should not have to defend. Hopefully, justice [the courts] can help to do it - but at the same time, I’m not really sure if it’s going to change anything in Spain”.
FA Cup and Champions League Finals: “In my experience, the best way to play a final, the important ones, is to disconnect as much as possible. When I started out, I used to think, ‘I have to prepare for the final, I have to put together a lot of videos and motivational issues...’ but it’s the complete opposite. I think you have to play as though they were a Premier League rival - that’s when we will be closer to being ourselves and play at our best level. For the last month we have played just one game a week, maybe we’ve had a couple of days off, but at the moment, we need to disconnect - even our physios, catering staff and doctors... they have been working incredibly hard during all of this period so, they all need to disconnect. They are here working 10 hours working with the players, so they need to recover from this stressful period we’ve had. When you are competing for every trophy, that’s how it is. That’s why, [I say to them] go with your families, if the weather’s nice go and play golf, work, do whatever you want. Relax and make sure you leave quality to prepare for the final. You have to train less, but doing exactly what we need to be in the best conditions for the finals.
I’ll go with my family, definitely. I don’t forget football, but as long as I am not here with the players, I am disconnected. The players always manage to be ready. So, family time, good restaurants... Whatever you do is fine. If you have 10 days’ holiday and we win the finals, than that’s we have to do, or if you have to train for 10 days, morning, noon and night to win, then that’s what you have to do. Now I think it’s a question of relaxing your mind as much as possible, and know exactly what you have to do to beat them”.
Team to use in each final: “I have a plan for Manchester United or Inter. You have to prepare differently. I have to see how many players I have, if they are fit. After watching (Manchester) United yesterday, I'm really impressed. In any case, I would be careful, but after yesterday and the last few games, we are going to prepare as best we can”.
Did you get a chance to watch Inter Milan in the Coppa Italia: “I would say I saw a bit last week, but not this week because I am more focused on (Manchester) United. I saw the game against Chelsea and I started to review a little about what they have done. To prepare that match, and especially to see which players we will have at our disposal”.
Treble: “They know, everybody knows what position we are in. The position we are in comes once in a lifetime, twice in a lifetime... not very often - being champions in the Premier League again with three games to go and play in two finals. That doesn’t happen every season. Once we are there, first of all, relax and enjoy it - and do your best. Because no one can be sure when we will be back in that position again”.
Situation with players, injuries... “It’s getting better, with some of them. We’ll see tomorrow in the afternoon training session, and decide on what to do for the last game because we need to keep our rhythm as best as possible before the weeks to prepare for the finals. Some are 50:50 - we’ll see tomorrow”.
Brentford: “They lost just one game at home and have had an incredibly impressive season. It is so difficult to play against them for what they do, they do brilliantly. After we’ve had time to disconnect, we’ll prepare for United, then Inter. I’m going to approach the game as seriously as possible - obviously, it will depend on how the players feel. Of course, we don’t want to take any risks. If the players are available, they’ll play.”