AFP, Tuesday 23 May 2023
Pep Guardiola has demanded his treble-chasing Manchester City players maintain their sky-high standards even though they have already wrapped up the Premier League title.
Manchester City s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola puts on his winner s medal at the Premier League presentation ceremony following the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 21, 2023. AP
Arsenal’s defeat at Nottingham Forest on Saturday confirmed City’s fifth title in six years — with three games to spare.
They celebrated their latest title triumph by beating Chelsea on Sunday and travel to Brighton on Wednesday before concluding their league campaign at Brentford on Sunday.
City have the FA Cup final to come against Manchester United at Wembley on June 3 before the Champions League final against Inter Milan in Istanbul a week later.
Guardiola said a drop-off in intensity levels was inevitable after City hunted down Arsenal in the title race, but he urged his players to keep focused ahead of their two finals.
“They have to be ready to run a lot,” said the City boss. “The best way to prepare for the final is be ready. The players set the standards, they have to maintain it.
“It’s normal the energy would drop. Arsenal play for just the Premier League. We have FA Cup, Champions League, the energy we use is massive.
“It’s normal you drop, you have to avoid it or don’t drop much otherwise the two teams (Brighton and Brentford) can hurt us. Play our game, adapt the way we play, arrive to United and Inter in the best condition possible.”
City’s deep squad means Guardiola has plenty of options to rest players.
Against Chelsea he made nine changes, including a first Premier League start for England midfielder Kalvin Phillips, who has had a difficult first season since arriving from Leeds.
Guardiola insisted all his players still have a part to play.
“Everyone can have an influence, sometimes five minutes is as important as the rest,” he said.
“Everyone has been important, everyone has been involved in the fact we are where we are.”
This article was originally published by Agence France-Presse.