Pep Guardiola urges players not to get caught up in emotion of Manchester derby


Pep Guardiola has stressed the importance of keeping calm ahead of this weekend’s Manchester derby.

The Manchester City manager wants to take the emotion out of Sunday’s tough visit to United in the Premier League.

The clash marks the start of a critical month for champions City in their bid for a fourth successive title, with games against rivals Liverpool and Arsenal to follow.

City have dominated United in recent years and the Old Trafford side’s form has been patchy this season, but Guardiola is well aware of the pitfalls of this fixture.

Guardiola said: “They have been good seasons (for United). With Jose Mourinho for one season and Ole (Gunnar Solskjaer) they finished second, they fought – not to the end – but they were (up) there.

“From my experience in these types of games, I’m learning to be more calm, more relaxed, not to talk about a lot of things, just focus on tactics and what you have to do to beat them, not on the emotions – because the emotions will be there, without a doubt.

“That’s why we relax and prepare for the match as best we can, with quality in mind.

“For United to go to Wolves and beat them and Luton and have the quality to beat Aston Villa a few weeks ago, they have incredible quality.

“They make something special out of one action in sets, transitions and open play. They have contacts with players and score goals. It’s always been that way with United.

“When they play well, they win games. We’re in March and they’ve only lost one game this year – last week at home – so the consistency they have is there.”

Not only are City chasing another Premier League title, they are looking to win an unprecedented back-to-back treble.

Their success has made them the dominant force in English football over the past decade, but Guardiola has warned there is no guarantee it will continue.

He said: “It was Liverpool in the 1980s, United in the 1990s and now we’ve won seven Premier Leagues in the last 11 or 12 years.

“But in 50 or 60 years there has never been a country where one team has always dominated and controlled. We will try to extend this as much as possible for many years in this organization.”

New United co-owner Sir Jim Ratcliffe has spoken of his ambition to knock City “off their perch” within three years after a long period of relative decline at Old Trafford under different managers.

“Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his people know the diagnosis of their club,” said Guardiola. “I don’t know anything about that club.

“If they said they needed two or three years, who am I to say otherwise? I’m pretty sure they’ll work on closing the gap, but I’m not there, I don’t know the diagnosis.

“But I would say that at big clubs you have to win and win, not just at United.

“It’s not easy for United to come out of an incredibly successful period with Sir Alex (Ferguson) and to come to terms with that, it’s not easy. I can understand that sometimes. There’s a lot of pressure on everyone today.

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