Men's Team

Guardiola: ‘Calm’ City will give every drop of energy

Pep Guardiola says he has no doubts his squad are in the right frame of mind for the end-of-season run-in.

The Premier League Champions head into the final eight games of a thrilling campaign chasing domestic and European glory, sitting one point above Liverpool in the league and locking horns with Real Madrid for a place in the Champions League Final.

With so much at stake, the pressure is on but Guardiola asserts his players are keeping grounded and are ready to give everything in the hunt for more silverware.

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I have no doubts,” he said. “I have the feeling they’re calm during the days and in the moment of the game, they have the right tension to do it, especially in the Premier League.

“The Champions League is a different competition – the emotions are more sensitive. I don't know the right the word to use to explain.

“The Champions League is completely different but in the Premier League, you have just one option – all of us know it – to win the game. There are not many interpretations of what you have to do.

“The most important thing with six games left, the most important job is done: to qualify for the Champions League.

“I said many times: you take it for granted. City, for the last nine or ten years, it’s happened but it is so difficult to do it, especially with six games left. Liverpool and ourselves have done an incredible job.

“When it’s nine or ten years with Roberto [Mancini] and Manuel [Pellegrini] we always qualify, the structure was there before we arrived. We continue to do that especially with the Premier League and cups, and in the Champions League consistently arriving to the end and fighting for them. We are going to do it again.

“When I qualify for the Champions League, I get a hug and a kiss! I know how important it is for many reasons. For managers and staff and players to play in the Champions League, it is so important.

“It’s not speculation. We just have to win the game… How? I’d love to tell you but I don't know. We have to be constant: don't do unnecessary mistakes in our box and be consistent.

“Be consistent and the game will be okay because we play well. During the games and bad moments – and there will be tomorrow: to break Roy Hodgson teams is always difficult, they play not to be relegated.

“Win the game. There’s nothing much else, and then what happens against Leeds, Wolves, Newcastle, West Ham, Aston Villa… That’s all.

“We are who we are and will go to the last drop of energy in our body and mind, I am sure of that. I know the guys and myself, I try to find the right words and body language to let them feel it’s the last.

“The only other thing is to have players fit – 17, 18 players available. Right now, I don’t have it and I don't know how much we’ll be able to but sometimes when that happens, the 13, 14 guys make an extra because they don’t think about anything else.

“They give an extra and that helps to win games because you have nothing else to win. It’s better to draw than lose but it's not the case, if tomorrow we aren’t able to do it, it’s more difficult to be Champions. They can drop points with tough games but more difficult.”

Guardiola also provided further clarification of Kyle Walker’s fitness, after the right-back missed Wednesday night’s win over Brighton and Hove Albion.

“Kyle is not ready for tomorrow,” he confirmed. “He’s much better but we’ll see on Tuesday how he is.

“I have few thoughts about [Real] Madrid. Brighton and Watford had much importance; then tomorrow at 5, 6, 7pm, we start to watch Madrid with more accuracy and we’ll see.

“I didn’t decide the line-up. I will wait until tomorrow morning. The doctors say who is available and after you take a selection.

“At Christmas, we had a deeper squad available. Now we have less players. We have to handle that.

“Winter is tough with the weather conditions and the amount of games but now everyone knows the end of season is round the corner and everyone gives an incredible contribution to do it game-by-game.

“The schedule is this, the fixtures are what it is: three days and recovery for important games. It was so demanding both games in the 10 days against Atletico Madrid and Liverpool but it is what it is.

“Everything is here (in the mind) but the reality is there’s one month left. From my experience as a player and a manager, it’s not a problem. In November, it will be a problem.

“And when players go to the national team... I go on holidays but they don’t rest – they play and play and at the end, they’re human beings and their bodies after the season, at the end, suffer.

“We just have to arrive in the moment fresh. This is the most important thing – it’s not about a lot of training. It’s better recovery, being fresh – you try to do exercises and socialise with each other, laugh a lot, have positive energy in the moment of the day.

“Tomorrow we will be ready at 3pm. This is the only important thing.”

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