Man City boss Pep Guardiola insists there will be ‘zero problems’ after he leaves the club


Pep Guardiola has lost a few battles against Manchester United with home defeats against teams managed by Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but Manchester City always seem to still win the war.

The reigning champions are expected to dominate today’s Manchester derby and consolidate their chase for a third Premier League title in a row.

Guardiola hasn’t finished below United since he arrived in 2016 and the gap between the clubs grew to a massive 35 points last season, prompting the appointment of Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford.

The big question is whether City’s success can continue beyond Guardiola whose contract runs out at the end of this season without any clear indication about his longer-term future one way or the other.

United collapsed after their serial trophy winner Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 but Guardiola has no fears City will suffer a repeat when he leaves.

Whereas United’s managers who followed Ferguson had to deal with a new and inexperienced chief executive Ed Woodward and an ownership model based on debt, City appear to have a well-oiled machine behind the scenes.

Money is clearly no object at the top with the Abu Dhabi group taking over control of the club in 2008 and below that the leading executives, Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain, always have an eye on the long-term.

They are credited with luring the hottest property of the summer transfer window, goal-a-game striker Erling Haaland to The Etihad, when every club in Europe wanted him.

Asked about his vision of a post-Pep Manchester City, the 51-year-old could not have been more affirmative.

‘There will be zero problems. I am 100 per cent convinced about that. The club knows exactly what is the target and the next step,’ said Guardiola.

‘They know the strategy. They know what they have to do right now, after the World Cup, next season and then the following seasons.

‘When a club depends on one person they have problems because the club is not solid. It is unstable. The foundation of the club is why the team is solid.

‘If the club just depends on Pep then the club is not doing really well in this period. If the club depends just one one player – like the striker who scores the goals – then that will not be a good team.’

Guardiola’s views will bring tears to the eyes of United fans who have seen the deterioration at their club since 2013 though ten Hag has made a promising start in pressing the reset button after nine years of hurt.

Whereas Ferguson dominated every part of Old Trafford when he reigned supreme for 26 years, leaving a huge vacuum when he departed, Guardiola insists it’s different at his club.

‘I never buy the players. I never sell the players. It is not my money. It is the club,’ he argues.

‘The club are the most important words and every decision we make is because we are thinking about the club and the day after tomorrow, and for the next years and the future.

‘The club knows this really well. They know the type of players and the way we want to play. In football, like all sports like tennis, like golf, you lose more than you win.

‘What’s important is that you believe the way you do things will give you the trophies and the titles. The club knows exactly what they have to do.’

Without stability at the top, the United managers who followed Ferguson struggled; David Moyes, van Gaal, Mourinho, Solskjaer and Ralf Rangnick. They have not won a trophy of any kind for more than five years – their longest barren run since the 1970s.

In a sense, Guardiola feels ten Hag – who once worked as part of his staff at Bayern Munich – has come into the club at the right time with expectations reduced.

‘Imagine taking over at United after they had won three Champions Leagues or three Premier Leagues in a row. That would be tougher, the bridge is probably lower now because they didn’t qualify for the Champions League last season,’ added the Catalan.

‘At the end, it is the hierarchy in clubs that is so important. How much do they believe in the manager and how much time do they give.

‘Results matter but the clubs also has to look at how the he trains, how he behaves, how he solves problems, how he handles the media.

‘The club must trust what he is doing and give time. Football, like many things in life, needs time to be solid. If you change managers and players a lot it, is more difficult.

‘Look at all the managers who have been at United since Sir Alex. Come on, are you going to say they are not all good managers? No way. If Erik works now – good for them.’

‘I have a lot of admiration for Erik. We know a little bit about each other because we were one year together in Munich.

‘I don’t know more than that. We don’t have a close relationship but what he has done is absolutely incredible work in Holland.

‘If United trust and let him build a team by giving him years and years that will be welcome. If you don’t win then you’re in trouble.’

Ten Hag showed mettle to make changes, dropping Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fred, after humiliating defeats against Brighton and Brentford. United have improved immeasurably since then, beating Liverpool and Arsenal, but this will be their biggest test.

Likewise they will be a step up in class for City who have had a relatively easy fixture list so far, allowing Haaland to bag 14 goals already for his new club.

Players from all over the world will be on show at The Etihad but the fixture still carries extra importance for the fans, and those players who grew up locally like Phil Foden, who has supported

City all his life.

‘It’s nice that he’s a City fan and important for the club but it does not mean he will play good or bad in the derby,’ says Guardiola. ‘He has to focus on what to do on the pitch.’


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