City to be 'judged' by titles won

Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (left) celebrating his goal against Bristol City during their League Cup semi-final second leg with Bernardo Silva and the architect of the move, Kevin de Bruyne. City won 5-3 on aggregate.
Manchester City's Sergio Aguero (left) celebrating his goal against Bristol City during their League Cup semi-final second leg with Bernardo Silva and the architect of the move, Kevin de Bruyne. City won 5-3 on aggregate.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Pep knows he needs to deliver after sealing spot in final but he's happier with progress

LONDON • Pep Guardiola was a happy man after he saw Manchester City defeat second-tier Bristol City in an entertaining League Cup semi-final second leg on Tuesday, and politely made a point that his side's progress, and not just the end result, should be cherished.

The victory left the Spaniard with one game away from winning his first trophy in English football.

"I know we will be judged for the titles, the trophies that we are going to win but, I'm sorry guys, for the last six months we are so happy," the City manager said.

"We won a lot of games. Every weekend we were so happy. In the training sessions we were happy and that belonged to us. Nobody can take away what we have done.

"But of course, all the teams are judged by the titles they are able to win and we are going to try."

Guardiola's runaway Premier League leaders, eyeing an unprecedented quadruple given they also remain involved in both the FA Cup and Champions League, won 3-2 on the night for a 5-3 aggregate win over the Championship side.

They kicked off with a narrow advantage at Ashton Gate after a 2-1 first-leg win at the Etihad Stadium.

But goals either side of half-time from Leroy Sane and Sergio Aguero effectively saw City reach their first final under former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola.

Bristol were undaunted, with Marlon Pack pulling a goal back in the 64th minute before Aden Flint scored deep into stoppage time. However, there was still time for Kevin de Bruyne to clinch a late winner for City.

Bristol manager Lee Johnson was proud to experience an unforgettable night as he led his players on a lap of honour at full-time.

"The fact is it's taken them two injury-time goals in both legs to beat us," he said.

A GREAT TIME

We won a lot of games. Every weekend we were so happy. In the training sessions we were happy... Nobody can take away what we have done.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Manchester City manager, while aware they have not won any silverware, is overjoyed with their performances.

City will now face the winners of last night's (this morning, Singapore time) semi-final between Premier League rivals Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley on Feb 25.

"We played an amazing game until 2-0 and then we lost control, this type of games never end until the end," added Guardiola, whose debut season as City boss last term saw him end a campaign without a trophy for the first time in his managerial career.

"This is a lesson for the weekend in Cardiff in the FA Cup and especially for the Champions League."

Fighting on four fronts would not be easy, and City are weighing up approaches for Athletic Bilbao defender Aymeric Laporte and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred.

Having seen primary target Alexis Sanchez join Manchester United on Monday, Guardiola is determined to bring in new faces before the end of the month.

He is keen to provide cover for his defence as doubts over Vincent Kompany's fitness persist, with West Brom's Jonny Evans and Inigo Martinez of Real Sociedad also under consideration.

But it is understood City would prefer to sign Laporte, who is predominantly left-footed - a trait that Guardiola is believed to have prioritised - and has been earmarked as a long-term partner in central defence for John Stones while also being able to fill in at left-back.

Shakhtar meanwhile, have named their price for Fred, with the Ukrainian champions indicating they would be willing to sell the 24-year-old for €40 million (S$64.7 million).

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 25, 2018, with the headline 'City to be 'judged' by titles won'. Print Edition | Subscribe