Guardiola relying on FA Cup to salvage first season at City

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April 22, 2017
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (left), with Arsenal team manager Arsene Wenger as they embrace each other at the end of the English Premier League soccer match between Arsenal and Manchester City at the Emirates stadium in London. Guardiola's realistic ambitions of capturing the English Premier League title were extinguished weeks ago.

MANCHESTER (AP):

The Champions League dream was over in mid-March.

Realistic ambitions of capturing the English Premier League title were extinguished way before then.

Pep Guardiola's last hope of winning silverware in his first season at Manchester City rests with the FA Cup.

It's hardly how Manchester City's hierarchy envisaged things going when they hired the most coveted manager in world football to much fanfare last year.

"They will not be happy," Guardiola said yesterday of City's owners from Abu Dhabi. "The expectation of the club is as high as possible, winning titles. And we are not able. We are not happy, I can completely understand."

The man himself is fairly phlegmatic about it all heading into an FA Cup semi-final against Arsenal at Wembley Stadium tomorrow.

City were eliminated by Monaco in the last 16 of the Champions League, for Guardiola's earliest exit from the competition, and are only fourth in the Premier League amid a real struggle just to qualify for next season's Champions League. With six games left, only Chelsea or Tottenham can win the title.

So how crucial to Guardiola is winning the FA Cup? He took two views.

"Winning or not winning isn't going to change too many things about the perspective of our future, what we are going to do," he said.

Minutes later, he changed tack, saying that lifting a trophy would "put in the hearts and heads of my

players how good they are".

"I said many times with them, but they still don't believe how good they are. Winning titles helps you a lot. Winning helps you win more because you realise you have that experience. When you win a title, a final, there's a lot of stress, a lot of pressure. When you handle that, the next time will be easier.

"That's why it's important for the future of the club."

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