Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted beating Manchester United to hoist the Premier League trophy aloft is not a source of motivation for the champions-elect.
City moved a step closer to winning the title following Monday’s routine 2-0 win against lowly Stoke City, which restored their 16-point lead over neighbours United.
With an international break on the horizon, City are next in action against Everton on March 31 before welcoming United to the Etihad Stadium on April 7 – which could see Guardiola’s men secure their third Premier League crown and first since 2014.
But when asked about the prospect of clinching the title against Jose Mourinho’s United, Guardiola replied: “You’re the fifth journalist to ask me this question. The important thing is that at March 12 we have 81 points and that’s a lot of points.
“We want to be champions, it’s in our hands. Maybe we are able to do it in two games, but believe me, before and after United we have quarter-finals and in those moments, the important thing is to focus on the quarter-finals. It’s not important.
“Okay, I understand it for the fans, but the important thing is to be champions. When, where, it doesn’t matter.”
— Manchester City (@ManCity) March 12, 2018
It was business as usual for City at the bet365 Stadium, where David Silva’s brace filled the void left by injured forward Sergio Aguero.
A knee injury sidelined Aguero but Silva stepped up to the plate away from home, scoring in either half to leave Stoke a point adrift of safety.
Reflecting on Silva’s display, Guardiola – who also expressed his sympathy for counterpart Mauricio Pellegrino after he was sacked by struggling Southampton – told reporters: “Nine, 10 years here, his skills and ability… Normally this kind of play you think is not huge competitor, or not a fighter, doesn’t help the team defensively, but David is a good example that in modern football you have play in both sides [of the game].
“I think all the players, they run without the ball and try to regain with desire and with the ball we try to do our best.”
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