New Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has come under fire recently for saying he is starting to “say goodbye to my career.”
Guardiola backed down from those comments – made to NBC in a sitdown interview aired last week – suggesting the media took his words out of context and also taking responsibility for poor word choice.
“I said in the interview I am not going to be training when I am 60 years old,” Guardiola said in the prematch press conference prior to Friday’s FA Cup match against West Ham. “But guys, I am 45! I am not going to retire in two or three years. I love my job and am in the perfect place to do my job, especially here in England.”
“I won’t be training at 60 years because I want to do something else in my life. I started playing football as a young guy and my whole career was on the pitch, so I want to do something else in my life. But not in the next three, four, five or seven years. Maybe it was inappropriate to say I am starting to say goodbye to my career, but I know what I am thinking about when I am going to retire.”
Guardiola also praised his team’s ability to be fluid amid a season of bumps in the road. His tone was a significant U-turn from the previous months that have seen him throw players under the bus and show concern for his team’s ability to adapt to his tactics.
“I think all managers have to be so demanding,” Guardiola said. “But what I feel now – what I saw in the last few games – every time the situation is not going well, it’s my fault, not the fault of the players. That is my feeling now.”
The Spaniard pointed towards the most recent 2-1 win over Burnley where the team gritted out a victory despite playing the final 60 minutes with 10 men after Fernandinho was sent off. “The players have been amazing,” Guardiola said. “We have changed many things about the way we’re going to play this season so it was a special moment against Burnley. To see how they fought in such difficult circumstances, it was so emotional for me as a coach. So when I say to them I love them, it’s because really I love them.”
Finally, Guardiola backed his goalkeeper Claudio Bravo, who was brought in from Barcelona to replace incumbent starter Joe Hart, who was shipped out on loan to Serie A club Torino. “He has to adapt but all the goalkeepers, central defenders, full-backs and strikers do,” Guardiola said in support of his goalkeeper. “I know people are focused on Claudio but why does Claudio need to adapt and others don’t? I see many goalkeepers who had the same problems as Claudio with these balls and when they fight for them. It’s not only Claudio Bravo in this way.”