Pep Guardiola has urged his Manchester City team to go and win next Saturday’s Champions League final and complete the treble as they may “never again” have the chance set up by Saturday’s 2-1 victory against Manchester United in the FA Cup final.
City’s win completed the Double and came in the first all-Manchester final in the competition’s history, dating back to 1871-72. Two Ilkay Gündogan volleys, the first inside 13 seconds to be the fastest goal in the final, proved enough to beat United, who equalised via a Bruno Fernandes penalty.
City need to beat Internazionale at Istanbul’s Ataturk Stadium to join their crosstown rivals as the only English clubs to claim the treble.
A delighted Guardiola said of his players: “One more to go – they feel we are in a position that we will probably never be in again. We will have two days off and then after we have three or four training sessions, prepare for [Inter] Milan, then go there to try.”
Guardiola was asked if he can smell European Cup and treble glory as City are so close. “Yes, what a privilege – we are one game away,” he said. “We already won the FA Cup, we won the Premier League.”
Guardiola said City, who are in their second Champions League final after losing to Chelsea in 2021, have to win the tournament to be given the recognition they deserve. “For me it is an incredible three years: two finals and one semi-final,” he said. “We should give incredible credit for what we did.
“Now is the first time I can talk about [the treble] because it is one game away. But it is not about the treble, it is about winning the Champions League. Everything will not be complete if we don’t win the Champions League so we have to do it.
“I said to the players you have to put the pressure on yourself to be recognised as something good – so you have to win Europe. We are one game away.”
Both Gündogan’s goals might have been stopped, with David de Gea motionless for the first and then failing to save a second that bounced twice, though the keeper may have been unsighted. Erik ten Hag, whose side were trying to add the FA Cup to the Carabao Cup, called both goals soft and was asked if conceding the opener so early was unprofessional.
“Not unprofessional,” he said. “As a team, we didn’t do the jobs we had to do and if you want to win trophies, details in big games make the difference and it’s hard to accept but we have to.”
The manager said of De Gea: “At this moment, I don’t want to talk about such issues of criticism because we all played a great season – including David de Gea, he played a fantastic season. If you consider that City [and United], before today, both had 42 wins and now they have one more win. So the difference was made today and you can tell we played a fantastic season and that is more than we could have expected than before.
“We were third in the league, we qualified for the Champions League, we won a trophy and we were in another final, so I am really happy with the performance of my team all over.”
Ten Hag, whose side lost 6-3 away to City in the league but beat them 2-1 at Old Trafford, was asked how he can ensure United close the gap to City. “I will fight for [my ideas] and I already told the club what we have to do for that. But I also have to work with my staff, with my players to be better next season. We showed today against City and the home win was not a coincidence and on another day we could win this game.”
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