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Guardiola salutes players after ‘incredible’ final

WINNER: The trophy which completed the clean sweep.

WINNER: The trophy which completed the clean sweep.

Pep Guardiola paid tribute to his Manchester City players after they won the FA Cup with a scintillating display of attacking football.

City scored six goals without reply against Watford in a rampant Wembley performance to crown the most magical of campaigns, which has seen Guardiola’s side become the first to lift all four English trophies in one season.

And at full-time, as his players received the acclaim of the travelling fans, the Catalan expressed his joy for a side that has cemented its place in the history books.

“It was an incredible final,” he said.

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“We have finished an incredible year. To all the people at the club a big congratulations, especially the players because they are the reason why we have won these titles.

“It’s not been done before in this country. One team is going to do it again, because if we were able to do that then another team can do it.

“But we were the first.”

Asked where this season's remarkable achievement ranks amongst his career highlights, Guardiola replied: "It's one of the best seasons I've experienced as a manager - I wouldn't say 'the best' but one of the best for sure.

"To have gone ten months in all competitions and be the first team to do that is incredible. It means we have been consistent every three days.

"I love the Champions League but it is more difficult to do what we have done than to win the Champions League.

"It's not easy being there every three days. We lacked a little bit of energy but it's normal. It's been so tough this week.

"We could not have had more energy but we kept it at the right time."

City survived an early scare at Wembley.

Roberto Pereyra raced clear of the City defence but the on-rushing Ederson produced a fine stop to keep the scores level.

It was a huge moment, which Pep believes could have altered the direction of the contest if not for the Brazilian’s brilliance.

“In the final these kind of things make the difference," he added.

“Ederson saved us at a key point at the beginning of the game, because 1-0 would have been really difficult for us.”

Guardiola also reserved praise for Raheem Sterling, who bagged two at Wembley and almost claimed a hat-trick - had City's second goal not been awarded to Gabriel Jesus.

"Raheem made an incredible season," the manager hailed. "He had no injuries and physically, he was so strong. He is a huge competitor.

"The reason why we have done what we have done is Raheem but in the first half, he was not so good. He made actions where he should have been quicker and he didn't pass the ball... You have to push to be better - that's the only way.

"Because I was a player, I know that the players deserve the recognition but we are here to push them. When the game starts, they are the reason."

After such a remarkable season the question is, just how will City top that?

It prompted an easy response from Pep.

“We have to. Always you can improve. There is no sense to stay still.

"There are movements in the middle - mistakes (that can be improved). During the game, some mistakes are repeated. Some players have to improve that.

"Maybe there will be a few coming to try to be involved in the way we play. We have to remember: we won the Premier League by one point from Liverpool. We are not in a position to be relaxed.

"Liverpool showed us the standard we have to face. Always in a game situation, you can improve - but I am satisfied!"

"This season, we came from the previous season of 100 points and the Carabao Cup and we still did it. You just have to do it.

"We know each other better and we know our standards. We can't think too much about winning four titles in one season - it's incredible but we must not think about how many.

"We'll come back from the summer, when some players have the Nations League and the Copa America and we don't know how they'll come back - like this season with the World Cup - and take things game by game.

"We'll prepare well and we will see, but now we are not able to think about the future.

"Of course, we don't have to forget what we have achieved. The standard is incredible - 100 points last season and 98 this season, and we won all titles apart from the Champions League.

"Thank you so much to everybody for their incredible commitment and for following us and what we believe in."

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