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City bigger challenge than Bayern or Barcelona: Pep Guardiola

By The Rainbow

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Pep Guardiola admits he is facing a tougher challenge at Manchester City than he did with Bayern Munich or Barcelona.

City exited the Champions League this week after an away-goals defeat to Monaco, marking the first time in his coaching career that Guardiola has failed to reach at least the semi-final stage.

With Premier League leaders Chelsea 13 points above his side, the FA Cup represents Guardiola’s only realistic chance of a trophy in his first season in England, with City facing Arsenal in the last four next month.

The former Barca midfielder says it was more straightforward to create the team he wanted at his old clubs and believes it will prove more time consuming to achieve the same results at the Etihad Stadium.

“It will take a longer time to put the team out I want,” he told Sky Sports News. “The other clubs, for many other reasons, were a little bit closer. Here it will take more time.

“That’s what I like. It is the first time in my career as a manager when I feel now is the moment. The other ones I was so lucky as a manager.

“Now is the first time I want to help the team, not just in terms of titles – they are important – but the way we play so people say, ‘Pep could do that again in a team in England like Manchester City.'”

Guardiola, whose side take on Liverpool on Sunday, has urged them to “play like a contender” in big matches – something he believes England’s national team must also strive to do.

“I love this club and I want to be here for a long, long time,” he said. “Many, many times how City do it [adapt to his ideas] was sooner than Barcelona and Bayern Munich so I am really impressed.

“But in other terms we have something that means we need more time. We need more experience to become a stable team.

“It’s like the England national team. I cannot deny the quality for all the English players playing for Gareth Southgate. They are top.

“But they must achieve that level, arrive there and win. In that moment the media, the people, the players themselves, they will believe they are able to play against Germany in a big competition – not in a friendly game – against Spain, Italy and win.

“You need to be there and to make that process. At Manchester City it’s like this. You have to make that process and when you arrive in a semi-final, play like a contender, play like you are able to win.

“But you have to be there and win. Until we make the gap it will always be there.”

There are widespread reports that Guardiola will sanction an overhaul of his squad before next term as he looks to bring down the average age and create more balance across the first team.

Yaya Toure, Gael Clichy, Pablo Zabaleta, Willy Caballero, Bacary Sagna and Jesus Navas are all out of contract at the end of the season, while the futures of Joe Hart, Samir Nasri and Sergio Aguero are also uncertain.

Guardiola, however, says a clear-out is not viable.

“It is not possible,” he added. “No team has enough money to push 13 players with contracts out and buy 13 players. It’s not a solution. I believe the solution is to improve the team.”

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