Pep Guardiola pointed out not even Manchester United’s legendary manager Alex Ferguson won a quadruple as Manchester City chase a historic haul of four trophies.
With the EFL Cup already secured, City are in the semi-finals of the FA Cup and the quarter-finals of the Champions League, while they will defend their Premier League crown if they win all their remaining games.
Liverpool are two points clear at the top of the table, having played a match more, but City will move back above their title rivals if they win at home to relegation-threatened Cardiff City on Wednesday.
Cardiff boss Neil Warnock has signalled he will name a young side for the game and Guardiola could also rest players, with Sergio Aguero already ruled out, ahead of their weekend Wembley trip to face Brighton and Hove Albion in the FA Cup.
Ferguson’s United won a treble in the 1998-99 season but no English club has since come close to repeating the Scot’s historic achievement at Old Trafford.
Guardiola won the treble at Barcelona in his first season in charge but the Catalan is under no illusions about the scale of the challenge facing City in the remaining weeks of the season.
“I’m not in the minds of my players and the fans to tell them what to think. If they want to dream and think about winning everything I’m not a guy to say anything.” he told reporters.
“But from my experience as a manager when you’re distracted about other situations … at eight o’clock I just want you to focus and play good to win the game.
“Why should you [talk about] the quadruple when in this country – a legendary country – it has never happened before. Legendary teams like Liverpool, the period with Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho and Chelsea, Arsene Wenger with Arsenal – no-one did it. So why should we do it?
“We can’t forget that even the team that won the treble with Sir Alex Ferguson – an incredible team in 98-99 – won the league with 79 points. In the semi final of the FA Cup, they had 10 v 11 and Ryan Giggs ran past five or six and in the final of the Champions League at Camp Nou and everything there.
“So to win the treble is so tough. One point difference in the league, that semi final of the FA Cup against Arsenal, Bergkamp missed a penalty, red card for Roy Keane and the chances Bayern had – hitting the crossbar two times – and then with the last two corners United scored.
“The spirit, the desire to win the treble and of course the quality of everybody at United means they did it but it shows how difficult it is the way they won it and that has only happened once in all our lives.”
Premier League prep
— Manchester City (@ManCity) April 2, 2019
Guardiola has repeatedly indicated he feels it is too early to talk about City’s chances of winning all four trophies and even as the run-in gathers pace he will not change tack.
“I said many times ask me at the end of April. I said to the players forget about it, don’t think too much, one week or three days we can lose all three titles, that’s the reality, other teams can lose before.
“I know in your heads we can win all the titles, but for now it’s Cardiff, then recovery and go to spend four or five days in London to prepare for Brighton and Tottenham [in the Champions League].
“It’s beautiful going to London, to say, ‘we’re going to play a semi-final’. And after, go against Tottenham in the quarter-final, in the nicest competition in the world. So that is nice, let’s live that. But game by game.
“Because after you have to go to Selhurst Park, we’ll go from an incredible stadium at Tottenham and after you go to Selhurst. That is the reason why we are here.
“We adapt in good environments and after in tough, typical British stadiums like Fulham last week, the first 20-25 minutes was incredible the way we played after the international break.
“That is what you have to think – Cardiff, what they do, what the strength points they have, what do we have to do to beat them? That is it.
“And after, okay, recovery, again and again. If we win, I’m happy.if we lose I’ll say thank you and prepare for next season.”
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