Pep Guardiola 'has no words' to express gratitude to Manchester City

Etihad manager praises board - and hails World Cup winner Messi as greatest ever - as he prepares team to face Liverpool in League Cup

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he "does not have the words" to express his gratitude to the club's board for the faith they have shown in him.

Last month, Guardiola signed a two-year extension to his contract that will keep him at the Etihad Stadium until 2025.

The Spaniard, appointed in 2016, has so far won nine major trophies during his tenure, including four of the last five Premier League titles.

"I cannot thank them enough for the confidence they have for me," said Guardiola as he prepared for City's League Cup quarter-final against Liverpool. "It would be difficult to repay what the board have shown me over many years.

"That's why it is so difficult for me to reject them for how they still want me and our staff to continue to try and do our best."

In addition to his four Premier League titles, Guardiola has also landed four League Cups and one FA Cup, but the Champions League trophy has so far eluded him.

Despite that, he says European success is not the prime motivator for committing his future to the club.

"I admit it's the trophy we want," he said. "My period here will not be complete without it.

"But it's not the only one or the reason I have extended my contract. We will do everything we can to try and win it. We have tried before and we will keep doing so."

Guardiola also congratulated City striker Julian Alvarez and his Argentina captain Lionel Messi on their World Cup win.

Alvarez played a key role in his country’s triumph while for Messi, who enjoyed great success under Guardiola at Barcelona, it was the crowning glory of an outstanding career.

Former City defender Nicolas Otamendi also played a big part in the success, which was sealed in a penalty shoot-out against France in a remarkable final on Sunday.

"For Julian, we are delighted," said Guardiola. "He played a lot and his contribution was amazing for the team, for the way they played. We have a world champion in our team.

“We are incredibly happy for him. Congratulations to him, for Nico Otamendi and, of course, personally for Leo Messi, for Argentina as a country, well deserved champions.”

As Barcelona manager, Guardiola won the Champions League twice with Messi and he hailed the little master as the greatest player of all time.

“Everyone has an opinion but nobody can doubt he’s there," said Guardiola. "I’ve said many times, for me, he’s the best. It is difficult to understand how a player can appear and do what he’s done in the last 10-15 years.

“The people who saw Pele or Di Stefano, or Maradona – they can say their favourites. In these opinions, they can have a sentimental approach.

“If he’d not won the World Cup, my opinion about what he has done for world football would not change, but it is normal for people that it depends on if they win. For him it is the final achievement of an incredible career.”

Liverpool 1 Man City 0 - player ratings

Turning to the League Cup clash with Liverpool, Guardiola called for calm from the supporters after the last encounter between the two sides in October saw a number of unpleasant incidents on and off the field.

On Wednesday he had a message for the fans of both sides: “Be supporters and support your team unconditionally in the good moments and bad moments.

“In this country (these games) are the best example. Enjoy the good games with the amount of quality players on both sides.”

City had 16 players away at the World Cup, more than any other side. As a result of differing holidays, fitness levels in the squad now vary.

Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne played in a friendly against Girona last week but Rodri, Aymeric Laporte, Nathan Ake and Manuel Akanji have only been back in training for a few days.

Those involved with England and Portugal, along with goalkeeper Ederson, were due to report back later, while Alvarez will not return until next week.

Erling Haaland, Riyad Mahrez, Sergio Gomez and Cole Palmer were not involved in the tournament.

Guardiola said: “Step by step people come back. We are happy they are back, in general they played really well.

“I have a feeling that the players in the World Cup are in a better condition than the players who were here. Sergio, Erling, Riyad, Cole, they missed a little bit.

“Tomorrow is important for players not at the World Cup to regain the rhythm.”

Updated: December 21, 2022, 5:49 PM