Man City's Pep Guardiola primed and relishing challenge of English test
Pep Guardiola was introduced to the Manchester City fans for the first time yesterday afternoon and told them he is relishing the challenge of furthering his managerial credentials in England.
The 45-year-old has signed a three-year deal at City and will hope to repeat the trophy-laden spells he enjoyed at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, where he won six league titles, a pair of Champions Leagues and four domestic cups.
However, the more competitive nature of the Premier League means Guardiola faces arguably his greatest task yet in delivering domestic and continental success for his new club.
Almost 6,000 thousand fans were present for a question and answer session with Guardiola at the team's academy base, with his first official press conference due to take place next week, and the Spanish boss insisted he had taken the post as Manuel Pellegrini's successor because he wanted to test himself in England.
"That is why I am here," he said. "I proved myself where I was born in Barcelona and after I proved myself in Germany and I want to prove myself here.
"To try, every game, every weekend that Manchester City play, that the people can be proud and enjoy our way to play. At the end, we will see what is our level to achieve our prizes, our titles.
"But I want the people who love football to be proud of what we did, that is the most important thing."
Through his work at boyhood club Barca and with Bavarian giants Bayern, Guardiola has cultivated a reputation for possession-based football which City fans are hoping he can instil in the north west of England too.
But the boss stressed he needs to learn about his players first and in particular which ones need a dose of tough love.
"You will see when we are going to play the first game," he added of the style he intends to implement.
"First I have to meet my players, I have to know them. I know them from TV but I have to know them, I have to hug them, kick their arse and after I need time to know them. I have an idea but I need time."
Having spent the bulk of his playing career in Catalonia, Guardiola's first taste of English football will come in the dugout next month and the chance to sample the sport on these shores was something he always wished to experience.
"One of my dreams would have been to play here like a football player, it was not possible and now my dream has come true," he said. "Of course the atmosphere here is 'wow', it's amazing. I want to live that in life.
"I prove myself if I am able to be a good manager here in England, that is the reason why. I come here to learn, learn about the way the people live here, for my family, for my kids. That is why I was curious to move in Europe and learn about what it means to live in England."
German midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and Spanish striker Nolito have already joined Guardiola at City and one heckler in the crowd asked if Barcelona's Lionel Messi would be following them through the entrance door.
"He's not a bad player, this guy, but I am sorry Messi has to stay in Barcelona for the rest of his career," Guardiola replied.
But 25 year-old Gundogan has been told by Guardiola that he is crucial to him at City.
"He told me he needs a player like me as a central midfielder," Gundogan said. "We haven't had the possibility to talk more. He comes now, we will think about it more then we will see."
Gundogan has not featured since April due to a knee injury he suffered while still at Borussia Dortmund and it was that problem that prevented him linking up with his Germany colleagues at Euro 2016 this summer.
City have three league games in August and their first fixture in September after the international break is at Old Trafford against Manchester United, whom Gundagon was constantly linked with while still at Dortmund.
"I hope to be ready as soon as possible, I am looking forward," he said of a comeback date.