New Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has come to England to prove himself and wants to produce the “beautiful football” for which his teams are famed, he told reporters on Friday.
Speaking at his first news conference since joining the club, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach said his personal learning curve would be steep as he came to terms with his new team and adapted to the rigours of the Premier League.
“It’s the right moment to come here and prove myself,” he said. Asked if he could get City to play the sort of beautiful football trademarked by Barcelona, he added:
“That’s why I am here. I want to play the way I want. But wherever you go you have to adapt to the quality of the players. We have to find each other as soon as possible.
“What we want is so simple. When the opposition have the ball to get it back, when we have it to move it as quickly as possible, to create the most chances as possible.”
Answering questions in English, Spanish and Catalan, he said he relished the expectation in his new role and added this job could be the biggest challenge of a nine-year coaching career in which he has won five league titles and two Champion Leagues.
“In my career people are always making demands of my teams. But it is good to live with that pressure. In England it is difficult to find a team that wins five games in a row. That is the challenge and we are going to try and win more points.
“You have to understand our body language – maybe we will not be able to win every day, but we are going to try. It could be the biggest challenge [of my career] because City have not won as many titles as Barca or Bayern. I don’t know.
“We are going to train to win as many matches as possible. It is better to be with that pressure.”
Guardiola, who said he had not been set any targets by the club’s hirearchy, was speaking three days after Jose Mourinho was unveiled as the new Manchester United manager.
The pair were famed for their rivalry in Spain when Mourinho was in charge at Real Madrid, but Guardiola sought to play down the potential for renewed conflict between them.
“I think Jose said it pretty well the other day, it is not about him or me. It is so tough to win here. We played many times against each other and the best coaches helped me reach another level as a coach. They made me better. But all managers want to win – and it is the same here.”
City’s new manager would not be drawn on the prospect of any additions to a squad which has already been strengthened by the arrival of 19-year-old midfielder Oleksandr Zinchenko from Russian club FC Ufa and striker Nolito from Celta Vigo.
Asked about City’s England players, goalkeeper Joe Hart and winger Raheem Sterling, both of whom were criticised for mediocre performances at Euro 2016, Guardiola said he would like to have an English core to his squad.
“I am curious about Sterling. The money they paid for him was always in the mind of the people. But I am looking forward to helping him so he can show us what a good player he is,” said Guardiola.
City have not revealed how much they paid for Sterling but media reports said he cost 49 million pounds ($63.48 million) when he signed from Liverpool – a record for an English player.
“I would like to work with an English basis but English players are so expensive so it is difficult, added Guardiola.
City play their opening pre-season game against Guardiola’s foremr club Bayern at the Allianz Arena on July 20. Their first Premier League game is at home to Sunderland on Aug. 13.