Friday 22 March 2019

'Quadruple is not realistic' - Guardiola

City boss says he'll need 32 fit players to challenge on all fronts as Dyche hopes for major FA Cup shock at the Etihad

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hailed the job done by Burnley boss Sean Dyche as “amazing” ahead of today’s FA Cup third round clash at the Etihad Stadium.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hailed the job done by Burnley boss Sean Dyche as “amazing” ahead of today’s FA Cup third round clash at the Etihad Stadium.

Pep Guardiola claims winning all four trophies this season is "an illusion".

The Manchester City manager believes it is far too early in the season to be talking about the quadruple.

City are 15 points clear at the top of the Premier League, through to the last 16 of the Champions League and into the League Cup semi-finals.

They begin their FA Cup challenge with a home tie against Burnley today.

Guardiola said: "Maybe that question can be asked in March or April if we are still in all four competitions. After that, we are going to talk.

"But tomorrow is the third round of the FA Cup. So thinking about four competitions, it's an illusion, it's not realistic, I would say.

"We will need 32 players to play really well for four competitions and that is not going to happen in my squad, to have 34 players."

Guardiola made headlines earlier in the week when he suggested the heaviness of the festive fixture schedule was "going to kill" players.

Despite that, he says he has no intention of making wholesale changes for the third-round clash with the Clarets.

Asked if he might field some of his younger players, he said: "No way. We are going to try to play the best team that's possible, because we play against Burnley. Against Huddersfield (last season), we needed a replay."

Guardiola insists his complaints about the Christmas programme were not about the number of fixtures, but the close proximity of the games on December 31 and January 2.

Burnley boss Sean Dyche
Burnley boss Sean Dyche

He said: "All the doctors, the physios, all around the world, say that in 48 hours, the body does not recover to play again, in such a demanding competition like now. That's why my comment.

"But we have to adapt. It's what it is. If the schedule next season says you have to play every two days, then every two days we are going to play."

Guardiola expects a tough challenge from Burnley, who have been led to seventh in the Premier League by Sean Dyche.

"What he has done so far is amazing," said Guardiola. "So after the six title contenders, the next team are Burnley. They make amazing results. It's a tough draw for us but we want to keep going in that competition."

Guardiola, speaking at a press conference, gave little away regarding possible transfer targets during the January window.

The club continue to be heavily linked with Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, while they are also thought to be keen to bring in another centre-half.

Guardiola said: "The toughest period to buy players is now because everyone wants to keep the players. If we believe we need something because we are in four competitions and anything can happen, then OK. If it doesn't happen, we are going to move forward with the players we have."

Dyche stoked the debate about the FA Cup losing its magic but is still dreaming of an upset. Burnley will be backed by 7,600 fans at the Etihad Stadium today and Dyche believes most of them now accept the world's oldest knock-out competition plays second fiddle to the Premier League.

"There are a number of clubs, including ourselves, vying to stay in the Premier League, and that does take precedence," Dyche said.

"But I don't see it as a shame, just a reality. I love the cup but there has to be just a pure business plan of staying in the Premier League and growing the club. But on the other hand, are we going there trying to win? Of course we are. Absolutely. We'll be trying our best to win.

"I think the fans may be more understanding of that approach than the media suggests, although I can understand why that is said."

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