Pep Guardiola believes the pressure of needing to win every remaining Premier League match can boost Manchester City’s quadruple bid.
City boss Guardiola hailed his players’ mental strength, tipping them to “go like a machine” in the chase for an unprecedented clean sweep of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup this term.
His side coasted past hapless Fulham 2-0 at Craven Cottage on Saturday, with Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero on target and Guardiola predicting only seven wins from their remaining seven matches will allow them to retain the league title.
City will face Tottenham in the Champions League quarter-finals and Brighton in the FA Cup’s last four, with Guardiola relishing the clogged schedule and the pressure.
“For the semi-final and for the Champions League, being in the position in the Premier League where you know if you don’t win you are going to lose the Premier League, maybe that’s going to help us for the other competitions,” said Guardiola.
“If you are 10 points in front you can maybe be a little more selective.
“But now there’s no other option, we don’t have any other choice, so every game we have to win, if not you drop that competition.
“So that’s why sometimes to play with that pressure is nice, it’s necessary to get the best out of ourselves.
“There’s no complaints about our mentality, what happened last season and this season again.
“The players are not stupid, about the fact we’re trying something so difficult to achieve.
“The way we started to play against Fulham, they show me we want to do it.
“What’s next is Cardiff, so we’ll prepare well, and go like a machine to win, to play, and try to win. Mentally the players are ready.”
Kevin De Bruyne’s return to fitness on Saturday handed Guardiola another boost as City inch closer to a completely clean bill of health.
➕3️⃣! Bring on the next game ⚽️ pic.twitter.com/tfKzjuviIW
— Kevin De Bruyne (@DeBruyneKev) March 30, 2019
Fernandinho was back on the bench at Fulham, and Guardiola even admitted young star Phil Foden could feature at some stage against Cardiff on Wednesday.
“It’s really important, but he is still a little bit far away from his best condition,” said Guardiola, of Fernandinho.
“We know how well (Ilkay) Gundogan has played in his absence.
“But we need Kevin, we need of course people like Vincent (Kompany), Phil (Foden), so the next game we’re going to make a few changes.
“A few players are going to play against Cardiff, and I want the best for them.”