Guardiola refuses to take Villa for granted
Having won 29 trophies as a manager, many of them a lot more significant than the Carabao Cup, one could forgive Pep Guardiola for being blasé about the challenge of facing Aston Villa at Wembley today.
Not a bit of it. If anything, Wednesday night’s Champions League win away to Real Madrid has wound up the Spaniard even more. Guardiola is actually fretting about a post-Bernabeu ‘adrenaline drop’ giving Villa an advantage.
‘The first cup wins are special because you don’t know if you are able to do it. But then you realise how difficult it is, so this time there’s more personal satisfaction than before,’ he says. ‘Every time winning a competition looks more difficult.’
This insatiable appetite for success marks out Guardiola as different to other managers who don’t take the League Cup too seriously. It’s worth noting that Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus were among the scorers in their first tie in the competition at Preston.
Now they are within 90 minutes of a hat-trick of Carabao triumphs and Guardiola is talking up the challenge of Dean Smith’s Villa as if he were facing Zinedine Zidane’s Galacticos. ‘I’m only preparing to win, I never think by how many goals,’ he says firmly.
‘Aston Villa have had all week to prepare. We had a mentally tough and physically demanding game against Madrid. Naturally, there’s a drop of adrenaline afterwards.’
However, Guardiola can call upon the relatively fresh Sergio Aguero, Sterling, Fernandinho and David Silva this afternoon, none of whom started in Spain.
Guardiola, who has only known success at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, speaks like someone who is still expecting to be slaughtered if an upset happens at Wembley. Maybe it’s fear that drives him.
‘Everything is extreme compared with when I started,’ he says. ‘Social media — Twitter, Instagram — people have no patience. Before they would be interested in what really happened.’
Unfortunately for Guardiola he won’t be able to call upon his best defender, Aymeric Laporte, who will miss up to a month with a hamstring injury.Daily Mail