Pep Guardiola has warned that Manchester City they must find consistency in their performances if they are to avoid exits in the FA Cup and Champions League in the coming weeks.
Man City have enjoyed mixed fortunes since the Premier League’s restart, securing comprehensive home victories over Arsenal, Burnley and newly crowned champions Liverpool, only to suffer disappointing defeats at both Chelsea and Southampton.
Guardiola’s side have moved into the latter stages of the FA Cup and Champions League, though speaking ahead of tonight’s clash with Newcastle, the Spaniard has warned of the ‘reality’ of exiting both competitions if they are unable to find their best level on a consistent basis.
“If we can play like we play, and we are consistent in both boxes, we will have a big chance to go through to the final of the FA Cup and the quarter-finals of the Champions League,” Guardiola told the media at his pre-match press conference.
“But if it happens like it did against Southampton, Tottenham at home and away and Norwich away, we will be out [of the FA Cup] and Arsenal will be in the final and Madrid will go through [in the Champions League]. This is the reality we have to accept.”
Guardiola also provided an update on the future of John Stones and confirmed the defender will start against Newcastle at the Etihad, the England international having endured a disappointing season as he has struggled for both form and fitness.
City have been linked with a host of centre-back options this summer following their defensive struggles this season, though Guardiola insists he has ‘never doubted’ the quality of the 26-year-old as he prepares to make his first appearance since the Premier League‘s return.
“On the transfer market we speak at the end of the season,” said Guardiola.
“I’ve said many times I’m more than delighted with John as a person, as a pro, everything. We’ll speak at the end of the season about what is going to happen.
“Sometimes my wish is not the wish of the players, or the wish of the situation for the club. If we have to change, we’ll talk to them. He’s a young player and we want him to be consistent, to train and recover. There are players who can play every three days for 11 months, others who struggle more to be fit and we try to find the key to them playing every three days. What we want for his future and for ours is for him to come back and play and to be able to play two, three, four months with no injuries. It’s difficult for a player and for all of us.
“The quality of John is there, I never doubted it for one second, it’s just when you don’t play, you are rotated and injured again. And injured again. He must play for himself and focus.”