Belfast Telegraph

'It's already been an incredible season': Guardiola plays down quadruple talk after City seal FA Cup final spot

Manchester City 1 Brighton & Hove Albion 0

City slickers: Gabriel Jesus (left) leads the plaudits after the final whistle
City slickers: Gabriel Jesus (left) leads the plaudits after the final whistle
Guardiola claimed not to have seen the incident
Pep Guardiola
Adrian Rutherford

By Adrian Rutherford

Pep Guardiola claims this will still be an "incredible" season for Manchester City even if they do not lift another trophy.

They beat Brighton at Wembley to progress to the FA Cup final and move a step closer to a quadruple.

Afterwards Guardiola was quick to cool talk of an unprecedented four-trophy haul, saying it remains "almost impossible".

Having already won the Carabao Cup, they remain in contention for the league, Champions League and, after Saturday, the FA Cup.

The City boss insists that whatever happens now, he is massively proud of his players.

"We have already succeeded - it has been an incredible season for us," he said.

"I know we will be judged for the titles that we are trying to win.

"But even if we lose the final, and if we win only the Carabao Cup and the Community Shield, and people say this has been a disaster of a season - this has already been an incredible ride, no matter what's going to happen.

"I am so proud, but of course we want it to continue."

City progressed to their first FA Cup final since 2013 after Gabriel Jesus' fourth-minute goal saw them edge past Brighton on Saturday.

The Brazilian scored with a diving header after meeting Kevin de Bruyne's superb cross.

It was an eye-catching move, one of few in a frustrating game in which City never reached the levels shown so often this season.

In a match of few chances, a big moment came in the first half when Kyle Walker moved his head into the face of Brighton winger Alireza Jahanbakhsh.

Both were shown yellow cards, the matter was reviewed to VAR, but Walker escaped a red.

Afterwards Brighton boss Chris Hughton felt Walker should have been sent off, although Guardiola claimed not to have seen the incident.

City will now stay in contention to win all four trophies until at least April 17 - the date of their return leg Champions League quarter-final with Tottenham Hotspur.

Afterwards Guardiola was faced with further questions about whether they can complete the quadruple.

He added: "It is almost impossible - we just have to keep going, surviving, and we'll see.

"Believe me, I am not focusing on it. It's just about what is next, and preparing well for the next game."

He added: "And one day we are going to lose, and I am going to say to the players that they are my heroes, because it is incredible what they have done so far."

It may be tempting to regard the FA Cup as the least of City's priorities now.

The swathe of empty seats in their end suggested some fans feel as much.

However, Guardiola's team selection and animated gestures on the touchline, particularly as Brighton pushed at the start of the second half, showed the importance he places on it.

Since losing at Leicester on Boxing Day, City have now won 22 of their last 23.

They have produced some sparkling performances in that run, although this was not one of them.

Guardiola added: "Do you think we can play 60 games in a season, fighting for everything, and perform every single day?

"No team can do that. Sir Alex Ferguson won the treble, and not all the games were fantastic, winning 4-0 or 5-0.

"In this game, in this job, it doesn't work that way."

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