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The Guardian - UK
The Guardian - UK
Jamie Jackson

‘We are far away’: Pep Guardiola dismisses talk of Manchester City treble

Pep Guardiola has dismissed talk of a potential treble despite Manchester City requiring a maximum of 13 victories to claim the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League.

On Saturday City would reach the FA Cup final if Sheffield United are beaten at Wembley. Should they win their remaining eight league matches, the title would be retained, and next month Guardiola’s side have a Champions League semi-final with Real Madrid.

When Guardiola was asked about the possibility of City winning the treble he referenced the fact that only Manchester United, in 1999, have achieved the feat. “I’ll talk to you about it after we have won the FA Cup and Premier League,” he said.

“Before the final of the Champions League we will start to talk of the treble. Look how far away it is. We are far, far away. How many times in this amazing country have trebles been done? How many years? How many teams?

“It is one. Once. Our neighbours did it in how many centuries? The best thing is to focus on if we have enough legs for tomorrow to compete against Sheffield United. Am I excited about the treble? Not at all.”

Guardiola has previously led City to five FA Cup semi-finals, beating only Brighton in 2019 en route to winning the trophy. After Wednesday’s Champions League victory over Bayern Munich, he will try to determine his players’ energy levels with regard to selection.

“I have to smell and talk,” he said. “After the game in Munich they couldn’t really celebrate in the locker room because of how exhausted they were. I’ve rotated a lot in previous seasons [in semi-finals] and it wasn’t good. I have many doubts about the lineup. I have to see the training sessions on Friday and talk with many of them and see what is my feeling.

“Of course they are going to say they want to play – it is difficult to find players who don’t want to play. But we have to be sure that the people are in condition.

“It’s not just about this game, it’s because we’ve come from having many games every three days, knowing that if we lose we are out. The mental fatigue is always big.”

Nathan Aké is out with a hamstring problem. “He’s not ready but I don’t know the damage,” Guardiola said. “I think today [Friday] they have the final test to know exactly what he has.”

Kalvin Phillips has started only twice for Guardiola since joining last summer for £42m. Guardiola said the midfielder was still lacking what is required. “He still needs a bit of rhythm in short spaces,” he said. “We miss the best of Kalvin – it’s a reason why he doesn’t have a lot of minutes.”

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