Trophy hunter Guardiola happy to miss out on winter getaway
Pep Guardiola insisted on Friday he will be happy if Manchester City have no time for a mid-season break, because it will mean they are still competing for every trophy.
City’s rivals Manchester United took the opportunity this week for a warm-weather training trip to Dubai, allowing boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer time to work on his squad’s fitness.
Guardiola did take his players to Abu Dhabi last March, after their surprise FA Cup fifth round defeat at Wigan left them with a free week.
The City boss will consider a similar trip this time round if an early FA Cup exit leaves a gap in their match schedule.
But he acknowledges that it may be difficult to fit in such a break if City remain in the hunt for all four major prizes.
“Hopefully not, because that means we continue in the FA Cup and especially in the Champions League. We will see. If not, then we will have this time in summer time,” Guardiola told a press conference.
“Last season, it was quite similar. But then after Wigan beat us in the FA Cup, we went there.”
City are still in contention for a quadruple of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup titles, something that has never been achieved in the English game.
They took a significant step towards winning one of those trophies on Wednesday, thrashing third tier Burton Albion 9-0 in the first leg of their League Cup semi-final.
It means that, barring something extraordinary in the second leg on January 23, City will feature in the final at Wembley on February 24.
That creates another barrier to a potential winter vacation as their league fixture at Everton, scheduled for the previous day, would have to be rearranged.
“Did you see the schedule this morning? I saw the schedule, and the Everton game will be fixed for another week, so we don’t have many (spaces in the schedule for a warm-weather break), so we’ll see,” Guardiola said.
City, having taken a step towards a cup final, resume their attempt to catch leaders Liverpool in the Premier League title race on Monday, when they host Wolves.
Guardiola’s side, in second place, are four points behind Liverpool after beating them 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on January 3.
It was Liverpool’s first league defeat of the season, and may have increased the pressure on a team trying to become champions of England for the first time since 1990.
But Guardiola rejected the suggestion that he is happier chasing than leading.
“I prefer to be in Liverpool’s position,” he said.
Guardiola hopes to have Sergio Aguero back for the Wolves match, with the striker having missed City’s past two matches because of illness, while Vincent Kompany is close to recovering from a muscle problem.
City have found it tough keeping pace with Liverpool, despite collecting 50 points from 21 games, a better average this season than Barcelona, who are top of La Liga.
Barcelona have collected 40 points from 18 games, an average of 2.22 per match, while City’s average of 2.38 is currently only good enough for second place.
“The Premier League is incredibly tough,” he said. You don’t realise how tough it is until you are here for the amount of games, the weather, the time needed for players to recover.”