Manchester – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola yesterday refused to get caught up in the hype surrounding the weekend derby at Manchester United, saying it was special for the fans but was not like playing in a semi-final or final.
City travel to Old Trafford in the Premier League today, with Guardiola’s side three points ahead of their rivals after 10 games.
Asked if it was the biggest game for him, Guardiola replied: “I don’t think so, maybe for some people. We try to make every game important. Of course derbies are special for many sentimental issues but we want the same results.
“But in the end it is not a final or a semi-final.
“I don’t go to restaurants or pubs. I can imagine how important it is for both sides, but I have to be cool in my mind and head, to know what we have to do, to do our best, no more than that.”
City bounced back from a 2-0 home defeat by Crystal Palace in the Premier League last weekend with a thumping 4-1 win over Brugge in the Champions League in midweek.
Guardiola added City can cope without a traditional number nine and have enough players to score goals, amid criticism that the champions are struggling without a top-class striker.
“Just trust a bit how many goals we scored last year without a striker because Sergio (Aguero) was injured? Maybe in the future we will buy a proper striker a number nine who will score goals, who knows,” he said.
Third-placed City have scored 20 goals in the Premier League this season, nine fewer than Liverpool in second and six behind leaders Chelsea.
“When you don’t score goals it is ‘be calm for the next one’. When you score it is ‘be calm’ for the next one’. In three days we don’t need a striker and then after that we need to buy seven strikers. We need to be calm and go out and play our game.”
United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has won four of his eight meetings with Guardiola in all competitions, with the Spaniard saying that the addition of Portugal forward Cristiano Ronaldo had made the opposition stronger.
“With Ronaldo they’re even better… they do get their results against us… incredible physicality, people up front with ability to win games by themselves. Good runners in behind especially when (midfielder Bruno) Fernandes has the ball.” ― Reuters