Manchester City will have had an incredible season irrespective of their trophy haul according to Pep Guardiola, who described his players as “my heroes” after they booked a place in the FA Cup final.
Gabriel Jesus’ early diving header proved to be the only goal in Saturday’s Wembley encounter against Brighton and Hove Albion, where City flew out of the blocks but were forced to slog their way across the finish line.
There is no let-up in the battle for honours on all fronts as they prepare to face Tottenham in the first leg of a keenly anticipated Champions League quarter-final on Tuesday, set against the backdrop of a titanic Premier League title tussle with Liverpool.
Guardiola reiterated his belief that an unprecedented quadruple is “almost impossible” and insisted City’s season would be a success in his eyes even if they are unable to add anything more to the EFL Cup they won in February.
“We have already succeeded, it is an incredible season for us,” he said.
“I know we will be judged on the titles we win but even if we just end with the Carabao Cup and people say it is a disaster, this season is already incredible.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m so proud and we want it to continue because it’s nice to play.
“[The quadruple] it’s almost impossible. It’s just going through, surviving and then we will see. So that is the problem, the next game.
“Believe me, I am not focused [on winning everything]; it’s about being there and preparing well for the next game, in this marvellous stadium that [Tottenham chairman] Daniel Levy has built. That’s all and we will see.
“In the moment we lose, I am going to say to the players they are my heroes because it’s incredible what they have done so far.”
Do you believe we can play 60 games and give a fantastic performance every time? No team can do that.
¿Alguien cree que se pueden jugar 60 partidos y ofrecer una actuación fantástica en todos? Ningún equipo puede hacerlo.#FACup #mancity pic.twitter.com/tnB5jfeSlm
— PepTeam (@PepTeam) April 6, 2019
Top scorer Sergio Aguero will be assessed before the Tottenham game, while ex-Spurs right-back Kyle Walker was substituted at half-time against Brighton due to a back injury.
Guardiola acknowledged such setbacks are par for the course in City’s situation, having selected a makeshift back four with Yaya Toure at centre-half for Barcelona’s 2009 Champions League final triumph over Manchester United – a victory that completed a treble for the Blaugrana.
“We will prepare the game against one of the best teams in all terms in the Premier League and Europe, when they had six days to prepare and we had two-and-a-half,” he said of Mauricio Pochettino’s side.
“Every day we lose players. I don’t know if Kyle Walker will be fit. That’s normal.
“I remember, with Barcelona, I played a final in the Champions League against United in Rome and in the back four were three players, normally important players, who were injured.
“When you make this kind of run you have to handle that and we are going to try and do it again on Tuesday.”
Those fit to play will certainly not be spared the scrutiny of Guardiola’s relentless demands, as evidenced by an animated exchange with Raheem Sterling at full-time on the Wembley turf at the weekend.
“I am an exhausting guy, I demand a lot from my players. I always want more for all of them,” he added.
“But I am so delighted. I know the conditions we are in right now. That’s why we have to be close to the players and we are going to try next game.”
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