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'I would love to stay longer but I have to deserve it': Pep Guardiola enters fifth season with Manchester City

Manager maintains he has open communication with senior management

Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola says he hopes to earn a new contract purely on merit. AFP
Manchester City's manager Pep Guardiola says he hopes to earn a new contract purely on merit. AFP

Pep Guardiola will enter his fifth season at Manchester City by arguing he has to deserve the new contract to ensure it is not his last.

The Catalan, who managed Barcelona for four seasons and Bayern Munich for three, is in the final year of his current deal.

He gave City hope he will extend his reign by talking of his love for life at the Etihad Stadium and saying that, as he enters uncharted territory for him, he remains as motivated as ever.

“I would not be here if I didn’t feel the fire or desire,” he said. “Still I have passion to do it and maybe more than ever.”

But Guardiola insisted results will dictate his future. He has won two Premier League titles with City but, while they retained the Carabao Cup last season, they finished 18 points behind champions Liverpool.

“I would love to stay longer here,” he said. “It is a place I love to be but I have to deserve it. This club achieved standards in the last decade but we have to maintain that and I have to deserve it.”

Not that Guardiola is under any pressure from his employers. The lines of communication with director of football Txiki Begiristain, chief executive Ferran Soriano and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak are open, but Guardiola is alone in putting such demands on himself.

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“This is my mind,” he underlined. “We didn’t speak with the club in these terms. They didn’t push me from day one to today. I see Txiki and Ferran every day and I speak every week with Khaldoon. When it is going to happen, it is going to happen. The relationship is so strong in all departments so it will not be a problem for the club to do what we have to do in the future.”

If City hope they will not be looking for a new manager, there has already been a change of leadership on the field. With David Silva gone to Real Sociedad, a captain has been appointed. “Fernandinho,” Guardiola revealed. “The players and the staff vote on captains. The locker room decide Fernandinho is captain. I am more than delighted about this.”

The 35-year-old Brazilian has long felt a leader for him. “It doesn’t matter who has the armband or is the first captain, it is the guy who leads in the bad moments,” he explained. Fernandinho has done that.

City take on Wolves on Monday, with another of the senior figures out. Sergio Aguero underwent knee surgery in June and has not been able to train with the team yet. City’s record goalscorer could be out until the second half of November. He might miss up to 12 games.

“Maybe in one or two months he will be ready,” Guardiola said. “Sergio is not a guy who regains the physical condition quickly.”

But there could be debuts at Molineux for Ferran Torres and Nathan Ake. City will be without Aymeric Laporte, who only returned to training on Friday after recovering from coronavirus, which increases Ake’s chances of starting. Guardiola confirmed he sees the Netherlands international much more as a central defender than as the first-choice left-back.

Guardiola will be able to make fewer changes after the Premier League voted to revert to three substitutions per side, a move he opposed.

“I don’t understand why, when everyone is concerned about Covid-19 and is not allowed to go to the restaurants and is not allowed to do what you want to do, in this incredible period you cannot protect the players with five substitutes,” he said. “You have to protect the players.”

Updated: September 21, 2020 07:05 AM

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