Belfast Telegraph

Pep on course for an early retirement

Pep Guardiola says he will be on the golf course rather than in the dugout in his 70s as the Manchester City boss prepares to welcome former England manager Roy Hodgson to the Etihad Stadium.

Hodgson, 70, became the oldest newly-appointed manager in the Premier League when he took charge at Crystal Palace earlier this month. Guardiola, 24 years Hodgson's junior, respects the veteran coach but has no intention of emulating the Englishman's longevity.

"Definitely not, I promise you. I love golf!" the Spaniard said when asked about the prospect of coaching on into his 70s.

"But I admire (Hodgson). He's had a long career and I respect that. I respect Gareth Barry for playing 600 games in the Premier League, I congratulate him. That is amazing, I love that.

"I love the people who stay there for a long time. They have ups and downs, success and not success, and they keep going because of their passion.

"I admire him at 70 to have the energy to put in front of the players, to prepare for the games, have the adrenaline to know what's going to happen.

"He's been with England, Switzerland... For a long time he was the England team's national coach, so that's good."

League leaders City will be expected to brush aside a Palace team who have failed to collect a point or score a goal in five league games.

City have been in outstanding goalscoring form themselves, hitting 17 in their last four games in all competitions.

Guardiola said: "It's the Premier League. I've heard from the beginning every single team can beat the others. That's the best expression I've met since I arrived!

"I have a lot of respect (for Palace), from what I saw against Southampton and especially what they did against Burnley, when they created a lot of chances.

"I showed to my players all the chances they created in just two games. They didn't score but when you see they have (Christian) Benteke, (Ruben) Loftus-Cheek, (Jason) Puncheon or (Andros) Townsend, they have enough quality.

"(My players) have to have respect for the opponent. They have to know they can lose the game. They have to go to sleep tonight knowing they can lose. When that happens we will be closer to winning the game."

City striker Sergio Aguero will go into the game just two goals short of equalling the club's all-time scoring record of 177.

Aguero, 29, has scored six goals in six appearances this season, including a hat-trick against Watford last weekend.

Guardiola expects him to shatter the record, which is held by 1930s hero Eric Brook.

Guardiola said: "That is going to happen - he is going to take that record. He has to be so proud, and Manchester City have to be so proud of that. To break that record is so fantastic.

"It's good and I'll try to help him score more and more goals and (spend) a long time here."

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