Win or lose, incredible season: Pep Guardiola

The Premier League trophy is the third won by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola this season, after the Community Shield and League Cup. He is eyeing the FA Cup today.
The Premier League trophy is the third won by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola this season, after the Community Shield and League Cup. He is eyeing the FA Cup today.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

City boss plays down bid to win fourth title as Watford's Deeney declares 'no fear' in FA Cup final

LONDON • Manchester City are on the verge of a historic achievement.

Pep Guardiola knows it, the players know it and the club's fans know it ahead of today's FA Cup final against Watford.

Perhaps that is why the Premier League champions have arranged for their open-top bus parade to take place in Manchester on Monday, when the team are expected to celebrate an unprecedented domestic treble - a feat yet to be achieved by an English club.

At his pre-match press conference yesterday before they travel to Wembley, Guardiola admitted the opportunity "to win four titles in one season will be incredible".

He said: "It's the final, hopefully, we can celebrate not just the Premier League, League Cup and Community Shield, but also the FA Cup.

"If we win tomorrow, the season is extraordinary, if we don't, it's extraordinary.

"We could have lost the Premier League by a point and the effort would have been the same; for one decision, you can win the league or the FA Cup, or not win it. We have to judge on what we've done in the season."

 
 
 

In City's way of another entry in the record books stand Watford, who are into their first Cup final since 1984.

The Hornets have never won a major trophy in their 138-year history, and captain Troy Deeney, their longest-serving player, feels their run to Wembley means he has come full circle.

While the striker, who has been at Vicarage Road since 2010, conceded they were "massive underdogs", he told ESPN that "for me, it's no fear".

Deeney, who spent three months in jail out of a 10-month sentence in 2012 following a conviction for affray, is considered a folk hero at the club, helping them earn promotion to the top flight in 2015 and guiding them to 11th in the league this term.

He said: "I'm hugely proud of the achievement.

"Football isn't going to scare me or is playing against City because of everything I've been through."

The City boss also acknowledged "how difficult it was to play" Watford, although he warned Deeney and his teammates that despite having "won the most incredible Premier League ever, we're back to business to focus".

Guardiola added: "We handled them (Watford) really well, the set pieces, the offensive side. We've spoken about the players, hopefully, we can compete like the FA Cup deserves."

The Spaniard also refuted suggestions that his side's on-pitch success had been in any way undermined by Uefa referring City to an independent judicial chamber earlier in the week for alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play (FFP) regulations, insisting that "we are innocent until proven guilty".

He said: "I know the people are waiting for it to be guilty, but that is where it is... I know exactly what happened, and what they did and I trust a lot."

Asked about the rumours of him replacing Massimiliano Allegri after Juventus announced the coach's departure yesterday, Guardiola claimed he "was not going anywhere".

And on speculation that Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann could move to the Etihad instead of the Nou Camp, he said: "We can't afford him."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

MAN CITY V WATFORD

Singtel TV Ch111, 11.55pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 18, 2019, with the headline 'Win or lose, incredible season: Pep'. Print Edition | Subscribe