Pep Guardiola hints at long-term Manchester City future after Fulham drama

Pep Guardiola hailed the character of his players after Saturday’s victory over Fulham (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)
Pep Guardiola hailed the character of his players after Saturday’s victory over Fulham (Nick Potts/PA) (PA Wire)

Pep Guardiola claims his passion for Manchester City is being constantly refuelled by players and fans.

With his contract due to expire at the end of the season, his remarks will offer encouragement to the club that he could soon extend his glittering spell as manager at the reigning champions.

Guardiola hailed his side’s last-gasp victory over Fulham on Saturday – secured with an Erling Haaland penalty deep into injury time – as ‘the’ moment of his time at the Etihad Stadium so far.

That is some statement given that the Catalan has overseen nine major trophy successes, including four Premier League titles, since he took charge in 2016.

Yet it was clear from his jubilant celebrations that the 51-year-old remains fully immersed in City life.

“This is not (just) me to them, or them to me,” he said. “This is a feedback. I give them enthusiasm but they give it to me.

“The way they play, I see the faces of our people. They give me the energy for the future, for Chelsea and Brentford.

“I cannot disappoint them, I have to be there with them.”

Guardiola was especially proud of Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 success given that his side played most of the game with 10 men after the sending off of Joao Cancelo.

He said: “What I’m proud of most is that, after seven years, still we can perform like we’ve performed this season. We can play good, bad, win or lose, but when you lose it’s always what do we have to do to do better.

“You see the team not give up, the way they played after the sending off, some decisions. It was a perfect amount of grumpy energy that you need for 10 v 11. Otherwise, you can give up. That’s why we compete until the end.”

Playmaker Kevin De Bruyne felt Guardiola’s fervent response highlighted the mix of emotions felt after securing such a win in tense circumstances.

“It was the same as us – everything came out,” said the Belgian. “It is sometimes these games at the end of the season that you look at and they are really important, so it was nice for us.”

De Bruyne admits he has little inkling of what Guardiola’s future intentions are.

He said: “I think he is more and more relaxed as he’s been so long with us. I think for him it is also easier because if you go to a new team you have to teach again.

“Now after seven years it is repeating itself, so I feel there is less of an edge sometimes and maybe it is more calm for him.

“But to be honest I don’t know. I don’t think you’ll get too much out of him. Everything is fine. He’s got his contract until the end of the year and after that we’ll see.”

Guardiola hailed De Bruyne’s influential display on Saturday, a strong response after the manager recently criticised his form.

De Bruyne said: “I think it is fine, he wants the top all the time and we try to achieve that. I don’t feel any harsh words, just pushing to the limits.”