Pep Guardiola says harmony at Manchester City’s is exceptional but insisted he will not be the manager for as long as Sir Alex Ferguson was in charge of Manchester United.
Guardiola is in his sixth yearat City, a tenure that has so far been supremely successful. While his opening season was trophyless, the 50-year-old has since led City to three Premier League titles, the FA Cup, four successive League Cups, and last term’s Champions League final. City’s first domestic crown was claimed with a record 100 points, and if Guardiola’s side defend the title this year – they lead Liverpool, who have played a game less, by nine points – he will join Ferguson as the only manager in the Premier League era to do so twice.
Yet Guardiola is clear he will not emulate the Scot, who led United for 26 and a half years. “I’m not going to be Sir Alex Ferguson, don’t worry,” he said. “The harmony [though] in this team right now is exceptional, thanks to the captains – it’s exceptional because of them.”
While Fernandinho is the official captain, Rúben Dias and Kevin De Bruyne are also part of a strong leadership group. Guardiola believes the team spirit is the strongest since he took over in summer 2016.
“We know each other well [now],” he said. “My harmony with, and respect for, them is much better, after six seasons. We know each other perfectly and we accept the good things and the bad things. And we want to fight and be part of it [the team].
“The harmony is important because in our last 20 games, we have won 18, drawn one and lost one to Leipzig when we didn’t play for anything. I know all the guys [players], and sometimes they are disappointed when they don’t play. But our harmony comes because at this club, the players know the physios, the sports scientists, everyone is just there to help them, so they cannot complain.”
City will be without Jack Grealish, Cole Palmer and Gabriel Jesus for the Champions League last-16 first leg at Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday because of injury but remains in a confident mood after an unbeaten run that dates back to the game against Leipzig on 7th December in a dead rubber.
“That is the most important thing,” Guardiola said. “To win or lose is random, you never know what will happen in the future. But the period we are together we try to beat our opponents with big smiles and good moods because when you have bad faces it’s impossible. When that happens, the rest is not important – we can’t control the results. Nobody knows what will happen, not even myself, the manager.”