Coach Pep Guardiola said on Friday that the eventual loss of the Premier League title in the final round on Sunday will not erase Manchester City’s brilliant year as the team fought to be the champion of all the competitions it participated in.
However, he said he knows he and the club will be subject to harsh criticism if that happens, as after the quarter-final elimination of the European Champions League for Tottenham.
“Everyone destroyed the team, destroyed the coach, destroyed the club,” Guardiola said. “We know that in the world we live in, we will be judged, so we must win,” he added.
That’s exactly what City players have been doing for the last three and a half months. Thirteen consecutive league victories have left them close to the English Two-time championship and the fourth national conquest in eight seasons. It would also be the sixth cup in the team’s history.
All they need to do is beat Brighton, only 17th and no risk of relegation in the Premier League. But Guardiola remains cautious. “There is more pressure because an error on our side, incredible performance on the other side, an error of the referee for us or against us, can decide the title,” he said. “That’s why you have to be more precise and better in the aspects we’ve been working on over the last three years. In a game, anything can happen.”
The last few days have shown this perfectly. From the wonderful goal of Vincent Kompany in City’s 1-0 victory over Leicester, Liverpool triumphing 4-0 over Barcelona in the Champions League and Tottenham Hotspur on Ajax for the European tournament.
The question is whether there would be room for new surprises at Falmer Stadium. That would require an improbable turnaround from Brighton, who have not won a game in any competition since early March. Guardiola also ensures that his players will not feel the pressure.
“I saw the team relaxed, training well, smiling a lot, completely focused on training and when we talked about meetings. First of all, it’s a dream to be here.” I honestly did not expect, when we were seven points behind this Liverpool, I was not expecting that. ”
Guardiola said he will not pay attention to the game involving Liverpool, who are one point behind in qualifying and will face Wolverhampton at home, at the same time as Manchester City. “If we win, we do not have to look at anything else, why should I be distracted by anything else?”
City will be strengthened by the recovery of midfielder Kevin de Bruyne, who returned to training after recovering from a tendon problem. Guardiola said the Belgian national team “could” play against Brighton but dismissed Fernandinho.
He will still have at his disposal Bernardo Silva, whom Guardiola said should have been elected player of the season in England, – the award was handed to Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk. “Give me a team, he’ll play well there, very clever, very clever, a nice guy.