LONDON • Pep Guardiola admits he is already making retirement plans and may not stay at Manchester City for longer than three seasons.
The Spaniard showed signs on Monday that the pressure of managing in the Premier League is taking its toll on him following the 2-1 victory over Burnley.
Gael Clichy and Sergio Agüero scored the goals that lifted City to third in the table, but afterwards the former Barcelona coach gave a series of awkward interviews in which he gave terse replies to questions about the performance of the referee Lee Mason, who sent off Fernandinho for a foul on Johan Gudmundsson.
Before kick-off, NBC broadcast a pre-recorded interview with Guardiola, in which he gave a frank assessment of his future in the game.
This may be just his eighth season as a manager, but the 45-year-old has already decided that he does not have long left in football.
Giving a pretty nasty Pep talk
Pep Guardiola was in prickly mood when interviewed by the BBC's Damian Johnson after the game: You won it the hard way? Yep, that's true.
What's your view on the performance? You showed real spirit after going down to 10 men. Yep, that's true... we won against a lot of circumstances so we're happy for that.
The sending off, what was your view of Fernandinho's red card? You're the journalist, not me.
You're the manager, I'm sure the fans would like to know. Ask the referee, not me.
Are you concerned that that's his third red card this season? We'll accept like I've said before. We're the team always with more ball possession and we always have sendings-off so we have to understand the rules in England. I know you are special but they have to understand it.
So the interpretation is perhaps different in England? Of course . . .
You don't seem that happy you've won? More than you believe, more than you believe I'm happy.
You're not showing it? I'm so happy, believe me, happy new year.
Are City still in the title race? Yesterday no, why today? Why are we in the race?
"I will be at Manchester for the next three seasons, maybe more," said Guardiola, whose contract expires in 2019.
"But I am arriving at the end of my coaching career, of this I am sure. I will not be on the bench until I am 60 or 65 years old. I feel the process of my goodbye has already started."
The City manager responded sarcastically and abruptly to a number of questions following the win over Burnley.
He cut a tense figure when he was asked about the performance of Mason, who did not hesitate in dismissing Fernandinho for a reckless lunge.
It was Fernandinho's third red card in six weeks and the seventh red card offence of the season for City.
When asked during an interview with the BBC whether his team had a disciplinary problem, he snapped: "The team with more ball possession, we have always sendings-off.
"We try to play football, don't forget it... I cannot control the other circumstances."
And, when asked for his opinion on Fernandinho's dismissal, Guardiola replied: "You're the journalist, not me."
His main gripe with the refereeing was over an incident in the build up to Ben Mee's 70th-minute goal.
The City manager felt Sam Vokes should have been penalised for backing into City goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who flapped at the ball before Mee drove in from close range.
"All around the world, the Burnley goal on Claudio Bravo is a (foul)," Guardiola said. "Here, and all around the world, the rules say the goalkeeper in the six-yard box cannot be touched. He goes here and the striker does this... I have to adapt and I have to understand there are special rules here in England."
Guardiola clearly feels his team have not had the rub of the green in terms of refereeing decisions this season. "It is always our foul, it's always City's foul," he said.
Burnley manager Sean Dyche believed that City should have finished the game with nine men after Bacary Sagna was booked for kicking out at George Boyd as the winger tried to retrieve the ball to speed up the kick-off following the visitors' goal.
"It's a tough one but it's a sending-off because he swipes out at Boydie," said Dyche.
"The linesman was a long way from it and the referee was running back towards the centre so maybe the linesman saw enough to give a yellow but not enough to understand it's a kick- out."
Fernandinho faces a four-game suspension, starting with Friday's FA Cup visit to West Ham, and, with Germany international Ilkay Gundogan ruled out by long-term injury, City are short on numbers in midfield.
THE TIMES, LONDON, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE