Guardiola enjoys pressure as Man City face Luton FA Cup test

AFP , Monday 26 Feb 2024

Pep Guardiola said he relishes the pressure at the sharp end of the season as he prepares for the next stage of Manchester City's FA Cup defence at Luton on Tuesday.

Pep Guardiola
Manchester City s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Bournemouth and Manchester City at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, southern England on February 24, 2024. AFP


City are well placed to repeat last season's trophy treble as the 2023/24 campaign enters its final months.

They are just a point behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, on the brink of qualifying for the last eight of the Champions League and into the fifth round of the FA Cup.

City manager Guardiola, whose team have reached at least the semi-finals of the competition in each of the past five seasons, said the end of the season was his favourite time.

"Playing every game that you have the feeling if you lose 'bye, bye', it's so nice," he said at his pre-match press conference on Monday.

"The problem in September and October is that you see the expectations far, far away, so in that moment you don't have to think about any titles, not even now I would say."

Guardiola expects a tough battle against relegation-threatened Luton, who lost 2-1 to City in a Premier League clash at Kenilworth Road in December despite taking the lead.

"Football is going in the direction that Luton play, so aggressive it doesn't matter if you are the top of the league, at the bottom or in the middle," he said.

"Courage to play, face the challenge without any fear and it's not just that... they play really, really well with the ball."

Guardiola added Tuesday's fixture would be a good test for his team's rhythm and consistency.

"After this game February is over, so just two-and-a-half months, three months until the end of the season and we arrive here still being there so tomorrow is a final, like in the Premier League every game (is) and of course in the Champions League," he said.

"So the decisive part of the season is here in front of us and we are going for it."

The Spaniard said City's success was down to work put in over many years.

"I adore to defend my players, for what they have done because I know how difficult it is. It is not what we have done last season, it's the last five seasons," explained Guardiola.

"That's why we have accumulated many compliments and many things and still we show humility and are humble but at the same time competitive to do it again."

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