…Guardiola begs fans for help …Spoiling City’s party not my focus –
Pep Guardiola can secure his first ever English league title with a win over his long-time rival Jose Mourinho if Premier League’s leader Manchester City beat arch rivals Manchester United today at Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola appealed to his City players to forget about the emotion of a Manchester derby and focus on winning the title, adding that his players are “so tired” and need the help of the fans.
A victory in today’s clash against Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United would see his side claim the title with six games remaining. The Catalan admitted his side were drained after their 3-0 Champions League defeat to Liverpool and hinted he may make changes for the game.
“We are close to being champions. It’s a coincidence because it’s the derby but it doesn’t matter. We just have to be focused on what we have to do to win the game,” he told a news conference.
“We would like to feel that [atmosphere], support those guys because they deserve it. We defend the badge, the club the best way possible. We’re so tired because United rested all week, that’s why it’ll be so important in the bad moments to feel our supporters are there.”
Sergio Aguero missed the midweek defeat at Liverpool and Guardiola said he could be in contention to face United.
“I don’t know right now. We have training this afternoon and we are going to see his physical condition,” he added.
Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho insists spoiling Manchester City’s title party is not his driving motivation ahead of the derby tie.
Pep Guardiola’s side, 16 points clear at the top, can win the Premier League with victory at the Etihad this evening. Mourinho is hoping for a first league win over City since taking over at Old Trafford in 2016. But he insists it’s only the points — and finishing second — that matters.
“My motivation is to finish second,” Mourinho told a news conference on Friday after being asked whether he was determined to make City wait to win the title.
“I still have the motivation of finishing top four, mathematically it’s not done, is a good distance but not done mathematically so that’s the first objective but after that I don’t hide.
“That in practical terms and finish next season to finish second, third or fourth is exactly the same, you don’t win the title but qualify for the Champions League group stage, but I prefer to finish third and fourth and second and first, and we have been second for many many months, is our objective to fight for that and for that we need points.
“My objective for tomorrow is try to have points to finish second.”
United have eight more points than at the same stage last season and have already scored more league goals than they managed last term.
Mourinho says, under normal circumstances, his team would still be involved in the title race. Instead, after 27 wins from 31 games, City can become the earliest top flight champions since Sir Matt Busby’s United in 1956.
Mourinho said: “You see the number of points we have and it is easy to go to the books with the number of points we have we would normally be in the fight for the title but we are not because City have a very good number of points that makes it very, very difficult to fight for the title, which we are not in this moment.”