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Pep Guardiola warns Man City players that he’s already making Champions League final decisions



Pep Guardiola has revealed that some Champions League final places have already been decided, as he challenged his Manchester City players to continue showing him they have the mentality to play in the club’s biggest-ever game.

With one final Premier League clash to prepare for, against Everton on Sunday, Guardiola admitted the last two games – a 4-3 win against Newcastle and 3-2 defeat to Brighton – have been difficult to focus on with the final with Chelsea looming.

But he says the difficult moments in those games will help City arrive at the final in the best possible mindset, as he revealed that some big decisions for the final have already been made.

Asked when he would tell his squad of his final starting XI, Guardiola said: “It depends on my feelings, sometimes I give it the day, one hour and a half before the final. Sometimes two days ago. It depends.

“Now I don’t know what I do. Sometimes I give it two days in advance, sometimes the day of the game. I don’t know.

“I have already decided many things in the last days, I have a few doubts, but in the same times in the Champions League you have to do all around the world five or six substitutions. They know everybody will be part of this.

“We arrive to the final, to the last battle, I will choose the guys. I’m sure we arrive here all together. The way we play this season we are all together.

“Now in this final battle, this specific game, for the way the opponent plays and way we want to play, I need the specific players. I choose the specific qualities and mentality of the players to play this game.”

Pressed on whether having already won the Premier League and Carabao Cup in good time will serve as an advantage to his side, Guardiola said such achievements are irrelevant in a Champions League final.

“When you arrive the final of the Champions League it’s an incredible success,” he said.

“It helps to win the Premier League and of course the Carabao, but it will be a good season when you arrive at the end the semi-finals of the FA Cup, final of the Carabao Cup, Premier League. It’s nice. Of course it’s not enough right now.

“I have an incredibly good feeling we’ll do well and we’ll play a good game in the final, tomorrow is a good preparation for that. It’s tough these last three games when we’ve already qualified for the Champions League and win the Premier League to still focus in this competition.

“The games at Newcastle and Brighton help all of us to realise how difficult it is to win the Premier League, how tough it is. I love to live these defeats to realise what we have done, winning 24, 25, 26 games in a row in all competitions is amazing.

“I had a feeling we’ll arrive in the correct time to be competitors, enjoy the moment, the privilege and honour to be there.

“Incredible satisfied to be the first team in the more than century of this club to be there. It’s an honour, we’ll try to enjoy and be as much competitors as possible to win the title.”


Rio Ferdinand issues major warning about Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag




Former centre-back Rio Ferdinand believes it is still too early to judge whether Erik ten Hag is the right man to lead Manchester United back to the top, despite their unquestionable improvement under him this season.

United head into tomorrow’s Manchester derby against City at Old Trafford with the knowledge that a win will lift them to within a point and place of their neighbours in the Premier League table.

The Reds have lost just one of their last 18 matches since being battered 6-3 by City back in October, featuring a current run of eight wins on the bounce.

The Reds, such is the level of progress they have made under Ten Hag this season, are now considered as one of the favourites to qualify for the Champions League for next season.

They have made significant strides in a relatively short space of time and victories over the likes of Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur already this season have proven that they are capable of competing in the upper echelons of the table again.

However, despite heading into the second half of the campaign with form in their sails, Ferdinand insists the jury is still out on Ten Hag, despite him reaching 20 wins as United manager quick than any of his predecessors.

“I think it’s too early to say,” said Ferdinand to the Mirror. “We’ve been here with previous managers when it looks like we are onto something.

“We’ve got to be patient and give the man time. I think all the signs are very positive at the moment. He’s come in and seen what is happening, assessed how things are, looked at individuals and looked at the shape of the team.

“These were a bunch of players that were quite low. They were shot to pieces and he’s had to build, not only footballers, but men back up again. He’s had to build a lot of human beings back up and that takes time.

“The fact he’s now talking about qualifying for the Champions League so positively, he can sense a confidence coming back into this team. There’s a consistency of performance from the team that wasn’t there before and the signals and signs are all very promising.

“But they’re still not where they want to be. City are way ahead of where United are. The distance is a bit closer, but it’s still not anywhere near where we want it to be. There’s still work to be done.”

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Manchester United takeover bids ‘expected imminently’ with serious interest in Club




Manchester United are expecting takeover offers from across the world as they are set to invite bids ahead of ‘mid-February deadline’.

The Telegraph have reported that the club have received ‘serious interest’ from consortiums based in the Middle East, Asia and the United States.

British billionaire Sir Jim Ratcliffe is also weighing up an offer, as the Glazers hope to the sell one of the biggest clubs in the world for over £5billion.

The report also adds that parties who had been interested in taking over Chelsea, before Todd Boehly’s £4.25bn takeover, are set to return with approaches for the Red Devils.

It’s expected that potential investors will go public with their attempts to buy United in the coming weeks with the clock ‘now ticking on a deal’.

Senior United figures will issue a mid February deadline for formal offers in order to help get get the takeover completed before the end of the season.

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Confirmed: Chelsea ready to make late bid to hijack another Arsenal transfer




Chelsea will make a late attempt to scupper Arsenal’s hopes of finally signing Mikhailo Mudryk from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The Gunners have submitted their third bid for the Ukraine international winger and hope an offer of £62m before add-ons, which take the deal closer to £70m, will be enough to break the deadlock between the two clubs.

Chelsea’s interest in the 21-year-old winger was earlier this week described only as ‘exploratory’ but ESPN now claim that Todd Boehly will test the waters and attempt to throw a spanner in the works for the Premier League leaders.

Shakhtar’s technical director Darijo Srna was pictured at Stamford Bridge last week as he watched Chelsea’s defeat against Manchester City and Boehly would have little issue with meeting an asking price which is closer to £88million.

Arsenal are said to be confident that their latest bid for Mudryk will be enough to finally secure the services of their No.1 January target, but have already been beaten to the punch once this month by their west London rivals.

Chelsea won the race to sign Joao Felix on loan from Atletico Madrid amid competition from Arsenal and Manchester United, but the Portugal international’s promising debut ended in devastating fashion when he was sent off just shy of the hour mark for a dangerous challenge on Fulham’s Kenny Tete.

Felix will now miss the next three games through suspension as the problems mount for Chelsea’s under-fire manager Graham Potter.

‘It sums up where we are at the moment – everything that can go wrong, is going wrong,’ Potter said after Chelsea’s 2-1 west London derby defeat.

‘It was a forward’s tackle from Joao, there was no malice in it but I understand why it was a red. It is another blow the hits keep coming at the moment.

‘He was really good you could see his quality in the game so it is doubly disappointing for us because he was looking dangerous throughout.

‘I don’t think there was too much malice in it and it is an unfortunate action and we are going to lose him now for three games.’

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