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I have no plans to retire for some time, insists Pep

By Sam Lovett

Pep Guardiola has admitted it was "inappropriate" to spark discussion of his retirement in the wake of Manchester City's recent 2-1 victory over Burnley and insists he has no thoughts of stepping down from management.

In an abrasive interview with an NBC reporter, the Catalan appeared to suggest he was nearing the end of his career after stating the "process of my goodbye has already started".

The 45-year-old gave a number of awkward post-match interviews in which he dodged questions or gave sarcastic answers.

Guardiola's contempt for the media is well documented but speaking yesterday ahead of his side's FA Cup clash against West Ham tonight, the former Barcelona boss sought to make amends and clarify his remarks.

"You can ask whatever you want about the NBC interview. I will answer," he said. "I said in the interview that I will not train at 60 - but I am 45. I'm not going to retire in two or three years. I love my job, I'm in a perfect place to do my job, especially here in England.

"I am not going to train for 60 years, I want to do something else with my life. I started playing young and I want to do something else. But now, I am not thinking about retiring, no.

"Maybe it was inappropriate to say I am starting to say goodbye."

After initially remarking that he was "approaching the end of his managerial career", ex-England coach Fabio Capello suggested that a return to Barcelona could be his next port of call - as the club's president.

"Guardiola's football is fundamentally always the same and if the opponents figure out counter-measures, he has to find an alternative," the Italian said.

"In any case, I think if he made these statements, it is also because in my view he has the idea of becoming president of Barcelona."

As for now, though, Guardiola's sights remain firmly fixed on the Premier League and the challenges he currently faces with City.

"The moment I took charge of a club like Manchester City, or before in Barcelona or Bayern Munich, it is the most important thing in my life to try to help them, to make them better," Guardiola added.

"In the last five or six years, City have been the best club. They are the club who have achieved the most. In terms of targets of getting better, of growing, of achieving the most, they are the best in the world, by far.

"We are going to fight until the end of the season for all the titles, but I never said this club is below the others right now."

Meanwhile, Slaven Bilic believes Jermain Defoe would be the answer to West Ham's goalscoring problems.

The Hammers are understood to be trying to lure their former striker back to the club from Sunderland to boost their firepower.

Bilic said: "The chairman is trying really hard to get some players, if it's possible, in positions we think we need. I'm not going to talk about names in public.

"(Defoe) has the things that are the most important in a football game - that's goals. He scored them last season, he was probably the main reason they stayed up, and he continues to do the same this season, scoring again."

The Hammers appear to have also hinted they have made a £20m offer for Celtic striker Moussa Dembele.

An article on the Hammers' official website stated that "a bid of £20m - a figure close to the club's all-time transfer record - was submitted for a player from Scotland".

However, a Celtic Park source said that they had received no official bid for Dembele.

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