I wanted to play for Arsene Wenger at Arsenal – Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola has revealed how he wanted to work with Arsene Wenger during his playing days – and how close he came to joining Arsenal, only to be told there was no space in the squad.

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Arsenal manager Wenger revealed during the week he was once visited by Guardiola at his home when he wanted to sign for the Gunners.

That move did not materialise, but, speaking ahead of the Carabao Cup final between Manchester City and Arsenal on Sunday, City boss Guardiola told Sky Sports: “I would have liked to have played for him.

“I called him to make an interview and he invited me to his home, he was so kind. I said my dream is to play in the Premier League and I would like to play with you and I feel I can help you. Maybe it was a little bit arrogant but he had his squad and he said there was no space.

“I understand completely but I would have liked to have played with him. It was not possible, so no problem at all.”

Guardiola’s managerial philosophy has been compared to Wenger’s in the past, and the City boss added: “He likes one type of player, with quality and respect for the ball. They are things I like a lot, so if people say we play a little bit like Arsenal of the last 20 years then it’s good for us.”

City start as favourites on Sunday when they meet the Gunners at Wembley, with Guardiola bidding to win his first piece of silverware since taking charge at the Etihad in 2016.

Asked how important it is to get off the mark at City, Guardiola said: “For the club. For me of course, and for the players and the fans, but for the club, for everybody. I am not alone here, I am not playing tennis when they are alone and doing absolutely everything.

“For Manchester City it is important but after that you wake up and Thursday you have another one [in the Premier League against Arsenal]. Of course it’s a final and you have to play it like a final.”

He says he will not be nervous on the day: “Never. I am more nervous when we are in quarter-finals or semi-finals or something but normally I enjoy a final. Of course we can lose because the opponent is good, but there is also optimism we can do it.”

Was he more nervous as a player? “In the beginning, I was more nervous because I thought it’s the end of the world if you lose the final. Then after I realised that is not going to happen, the sun still rises. But when you get old you realise that. We are so happy just being there and we are going to try to win.”

City come into the game on the back of just their third defeat of the season as they were beaten 1-0 by Wigan in the FA Cup on Monday.

The surprise loss to the League One side means City’s hopes of a quadruple are over for the season.

Guardiola said: “The hours after the game were sad, but two days later we focused on the next one. Professionals know it’s part of the game when people talk about how many titles you are going to win, to be unbeatable, those kinds of things…that is unrealistic to think about. Focus on the next one and try to win the game.

“I am not so dramatic in the good moments when there are nice words about us, and I am also not so dramatic when you lose a game. It’s part of the game. It’s always sad because we did absolutely everything to go through but Wigan did a good job and congratulations.”

Guardiola has won numerous finals before during his time as a manager with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but says he does not want to be remembered for titles.

He said: “What is important is the relationship with your players and that you are happy working together and trying to win titles together. When the players make you feel they are together and we helped them to be better players and you see they enjoy the football being played that way, that is the best that remains in our heads and hearts.”



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