Pep Guardiola has admitted he is surprised by Chelsea’s revolving-door policy with managers as he prepares for Sunday’s League Cup final, the match that could seal the fate of the London club’s current boss Maurizio Sarri.
There has been mounting speculation over the Italian Sarri’s future in recent weeks after a spectacular mid-season slump best exemplified by a 6-0 humiliation in their league visit to City’s Etihad Stadium earlier this month, but Guardiola believes Chelsea should adopt the same sort of long-term view City took when they employed him in 2016.
Comparisons have been drawn with Guardiola’s first season in England, when City struggled to adapt to his demanding style of play, although the Catalan was keen to downplay the similarities.
“The situation is different. In my first year never the club doubted me,” he said.
“It was never in the media that I’d be sacked if they lose this game. When (Antonio) Conte won the title, people were saying he’d be sacked when they lost one or two games the next season. But he had won the Premier League two or three months before.
“I said the same after we lost there (to Chelsea in December) and won here, my opinion of him is the same.”
– Chelsea snub –
Guardiola was linked to Chelsea during his spells with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, although he insists that a move to Stamford Bridge was never a realistic possibility.
And given the lack of patience shown by the Blues’ billionaire owner Roman Abramovich, Guardiola appeared happier to be working for City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain and CEO Ferran Soriano — both former Barcelona directors and personal friends.
“I never was a potential option for Chelsea, I was in Barcelona and Bayern,” he said. “I decided to go to Munich and came here with Ferran and Txiki, they trust me and I trust them.
“In the first season when it was difficult, I said we needed time and they supported me, the players knew who was the manager and who would be the manager, it was stable.
“That’s the best way to do something for a long time, not just a short period.”
City are strong favourites at Wembley, especially after hitting Chelsea for six a few weeks ago, but Guardiola claims that result could actually work against his team.
“I don’t like to play in a short period of time when you’ve beaten them so much,” he said.
“They are incredible professional players, they are proud, they will do extra. When we lost 2-0 in Stamford Bridge, we could not accept a defeat at home, but it is what it is.
“We are going to play the final, try to improve, play the type of game you play in a final and try to win.”
Guardiola has a number of key selection decisions to make for the final, chief among them whether to retain Arijanet Muric, whom he has used in the competition to date, in goal in preference to regular first-choice Ederson.
Feb 22, 2019 22:21 IST
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