Exclusive: Man City boss Guardiola won't be feeling the strain despite huge expectations, claims Given

Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City to step up and go for Champions League glory
Pep Guardiola has urged Manchester City to step up and go for Champions League glory

Pep Guardiola’s rampant Manchester City will be keen to keep the momentum going as they open the hunt for Champions League glory against a diminished Feyenoord in Rotterdam on Wednesday.

Former Manchester City keeper Shay Given believes Pep Guardiola is under ‘huge pressure’ to deliver domestic and European success this season – as he predicts his old foe Jose Mourinho will fight the City boss all the way the Premier League title.

Speaking to the Yahoo Sport at a BT Sport event, Given suggested Guardiola cannot afford a repeat of his first season at City, as he failed to deliver a trophy and finished third in the Premier League.

“Guardiola is under huge pressure this season, but I believe he will relish that,” says ex-City keeper Given. “He will have learnt from what happened last season. He knew he needed to strengthen in certain areas and by bringing in two full-back and a new keeper, he has done that.

“Last year, he could see how good they were going forward and he will hope he has tightened up at the back, but the pressure will be on him in the next few months, without a doubt.

“He is respected as one of the top managers in the world and should thrive on that pressure.

“That should be what he gets up every day for and I’m sure Guardiola is excited by the prospect of what City can achieve this season rather than fearful of the challenge in front of him.

“I would say City are the Premier League title favourites, but you cannot under-estimate Jose Mourinho and he has built a strong team at Manchester United. From what we have seen so far, I think the winning this season will come from Manchester and obviously I hope City get it.”

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Given also suggested Neymar’s €222m transfer from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain will have a lasting impact in football, after claiming United’s deal to sign Romelu Lukaku now looks like a bargain.

“The transfer window has gone crazy,” he added. “For me, Lukaku was good business at £75m, but if he had gone after the Neymar deal went through, then the price might have doubled.

“Paris Saint-Germain changed everything in football with that single transfer of Neymar.

“The price they paid, the impact it has had on every deal since and how price tags have gone through the roof as a result has changed football dramatically at this moment.

“Whether it can last, I don’t know. You would kind of think there is some kind of ceiling on it.

“These price tags can’t just keep going higher and higher and maybe when we look back in years to come, we will realise this was a crazy summer of transfer spending.”

BT Sport has live and exclusive coverage of the Premier League, Emirates FA Cup and UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League this season. For more information, visit http://sport.bt.com/

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