Belfast Telegraph

Pep warns City fans: I am not a Messiah

... but Guardiola arrives with promise of success

By Ian Herbert

Manchester City's new manager Pep Guardiola has cautioned that he is no Messiah and that to suggest that he can change the mentality and style of British football would be "presumptuous".

Guardiola said in an impressive inaugural press conference at City's academy that he could not yet say what the next three years held and that the question of how to succeed in the Premier League should be put to him halfway through the season.

But he insisted that he believes he can replicate his Barcelona and Bayern Munich success in Manchester.

In contrast to the bombastic style of Jose Mourinho, the new Manchester United manager, he implied that he would have to fit in with the British game. "I come to the country that created football and to believe you have to change something would be a little bit presumptuous," the Spaniard said.

"I'm not good enough to change everything. To change the mentality of a club after more than 120 years would be presumptuous. I trust a lot in myself. I think I am able to do the job. But I don't come here to think I can change the mentality or the culture of England."

Guardiola acknowledged that Mourinho has a "six-year" head start on him in the Premier League and admitted that no-one would be willing to cut him any slack because of that, with the expectation being that winning would come immediately.

He did not, however, offer a ringing endorsement of goalkeeper Joe Hart, whose form was poor at the Euros.

"At the moment, there's no doubt. He's No.1," said Guardiola.

Asked if he rated Hart, he replied: "We're always looking for the best option to create a better team."

Expanding on Hart, Guardiola said: "Right now I'm not concerned about that.

"I don't worry about the performance of Joe Hart in the Euros.

"It's important to know what level of quality they have, to analyse their quality and to decide what we are going to do with them. It's similar with Raheem Sterling."

The new manager said that although he wanted to help Sterling develop and re-discover his form, it was ultimately up to the player. "Sterling has the quality," he said. "He just has to focus on his life, his profession and I'm pretty sure he will play well.

"The players want to talk, talk, talk but the only way you can talk at the end is if you win. What do you want? We can talk here, in the office, anywhere... but in the end it depends on what happens on the pitch."

Guardiola said that he was in the Premier League to prove he did not need Lionel Messi or an experienced group of players like Bayern Munich's to be a winner.

"I was in Barcelona where I had absolutely everything: the best player ever (Messi) and one team where most of the players grew up from the academy (Bayern) so I knew them."

He admitted no one would cut him slack because he is a new Premier League manager. "People don't expect to see how good we are in January and February," he said.

"They expect to see how good Pep is in the first friendly game against Bayern Munich (this month). I need time. I know I don't have time."

He also said that his relationship with Yaya Toure, whom he sold when Barcelona manager, was good, but was less effusive in his talk of helping galvanise him.

"I know Yaya from a long time ago," Guardiola said. "He did very, very well in Barcelona and here as well. He is a huge star and all the players who are here now come to me. After that, we will see what happens. Yaya is here. I'll connect with him."

Belfast Telegraph


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