Shortly after José Mourinho’s (second) sacking three seasons ago, Chelsea approached Pep Guardiola (for the second time) to attempt to convince him to join the club, just like Roman Abramovich had supposedly always wanted.
Guardiola swiftly declined the Chelsea offer, reportedly claiming that he would need “10 new players” to make things work at Stamford Bridge. Instead, he ended up going to Manchester City shortly thereafter, who not only gave him the financial support, but more importantly, gave him time to settle in and figure things out — and that’s despite spending the previous few seasons preparing for his arrival already, starting with the hiring of Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain as CEO and football director, respectively, in 2012.
Undeterred, and after repeating the usual pattern with Antonio Conte, Chelsea opted for discount store Pep Guardiola in Maurizio Sarri last summer. Seven months later, Sarri’s already skating on thin ice, something that Guardiola has never really had to experience in any of his cushy jobs.
“[Sarri’s] situation is a little bit different [to mine]. In my first year, never did the club doubt me. It was never in the media that I’d be sacked if they lose this game or the other game. It never happened.”
“I was surprised that when Conte won the title [two years ago] and they lost one or two games at the beginning of the following season, people start to say he was going to be sacked. I said: ‘Wow, but two or three months ago they won the Premier League’. The situation is completely different.”
Cynically, one might read Guardiola’s insistence on Sarri doing a great job as an underhanded way of gaining an advantage — after all, who wouldn’t want to continue playing against a team so easily cut apart as Chelsea? — but there is supposedly genuine respect and concern for each others’ well being there.
Either way, Pep’s expecting a strong reaction from the Blues after the 6-0 humiliation we suffered two weeks ago at the Etihad, which might make him the one person who might genuinely believe that (if only to ensure that his team are fully concentrated and motivated and don’t overlook the game).
“In that moment I was so happy to beat them but now I would prefer not to have beaten them 6-0. I don’t like to play a team again in a short period of time, when you’ve beaten them by so much. They are incredible professional players, they are proud, they will do an extra [effort].”
“When we lost 2-0 in Stamford Bridge [in December] you cannot accept a defeat at home [in the return]. But it’s what it is.”
“We are going to play the final, try to improve, play the type of game you play in a final and try to win.”
For good measure, here’s a bit more smoke blown up our collective bungholes.
“When we reviewed the game [at the Etihad] – maybe people don’t believe me but they did incredible things. The first goal was a mistake, they were not paying attention. The [third] one Ross Barkley made a mistake. The second one, Sergio [Agüero] scores an incredible goal.”
“When that happens it’s tough for the managers and the teams. But they did many, many good things. That was my feeling. I’ve spoken to my staff and they had the same opinion.”
-Pep Guardiola; Source: The Guardian
Incredible things? Incredible thoughts? Is Pep a long-lost Style Boy?
Away with your mind games!