Pep Guardiola ready for Manchester United's challenge under new leadership

Manager says his mission is to keep Manchester City at the top

Pep Guardiola says he aims to keep Manchester City at the top as long as he is there. PA
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Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola said he expects a tougher challenge from Manchester United following British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe's purchase of a minority stake in the club.

However, the City boss said he intends to keep his club at the top of the Premier League for as long as possible.

Ratcliffe, who has taken a 27.7 percent stake in United and will have control over football operations, said he wants to knock City and Liverpool "off their perch" within three years.

United have not won the Premier League since former manager Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, while City have become the dominant force in English football.

Ferguson famously spoke in similar terms in his early days as United manager in the late 1980s when Liverpool were the dominant force.

Guardiola said: "I'm pretty sure with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the other people that United are going to take a step forwards.

"But that is normal, it's not just United. All the teams want it. We want to be there and, as long as I'm here, we will try to be there again.

"What I want is Man City, my team, being there. The rest, I don't care. We want to be there."

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The on-field gap between United and City is wide, with Guardiola's men having won 14 trophies in the past six years to their rivals' one, capped by last season's treble.

Guardiola says that success is down to a lot of hard work on and off the field.

He said: "You don't have success if all the elements of the club are not together, it's impossible. It doesn't belong to one player, one manager, one anything.

"All the details have to be on the same path, aligned, all of them, otherwise it's more difficult.

"Still we are there after what happened over seven or eight years. Few clubs can do it and still we are there. The biggest contenders know how difficult it is."

Meanwhile, Guardiola expects midfielder Kevin De Bruyne to travel to Bournemouth on Saturday, four days after he sat out their 1-0 victory over Brentford with what the Manchester City manager called "niggles" in his hamstring.

"He is good. Not injured," Guardiola said on Friday. "I don't know if he is 100% but we took a good decision (against Brentford). We didn't take a risk. People would ask why he didn't play. He didn't feel comfortable.

"The day after the game he didn't train and yesterday everyone was off, but he trained by himself. Today we will assess. I am sure he will travel."

The 32-year-old Belgian missed five months after hamstring surgery but had been excellent in his eight appearances in all competitions since his return.

City can put pressure on leaders Liverpool in a tight title race with a win on Saturday. Guardiola's team have 56 points, four behind Liverpool but with a game in hand. They are just a point ahead of Arsenal.

Updated: February 24, 2024, 9:54 AM