LONDON – Manchester City’s young squad can help the newly-crowned Premier League champions build on their success in the coming years, playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has said.
After a trophyless debut season in England, Spanish manager Pep Guardiola oversaw the exits of several older players and replaced them with much younger players.
City, who have 11 players below the age of 25 in their current squad, have been rampant this season, the Citizens winning 28 of their 33 league matches to seal the title and add to February’s League Cup triumph.
“It’s no coincidence that the type of players brought in over the last year or two have all been of a similar age and we will look to build as a group together,” De Bruyne,26, told City’s website.
“The feeling amongst the squad is great. We have enjoyed the season a lot but there is work to do if we want to achieve more in future. That can be the trickiest thing in football, to not only win but keep winning. Having such a young squad will hopefully help us to achieve that.”
City have scored 93 league goals so far and could still surpass Chelsea’s record tally of 103 goals in a single campaign.
The champions host 17th-placed Swansea City in the league on Sunday.
Meanwhile, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho will drop some of the high-profile players who gifted the English Premier League title to cross-town rivals City at the weekend, saying “the price they cost, their salary, their beautiful face” doesn’t guarantee a place in his team.
United lost at home to last-place West Bromwich Albion 1-0 on Sunday in one of the most surprising results of the Premier League.
Mourinho said some players will pay the price by not featuring against Bournemouth tonight and potentially against Tottenham in the FA Cup semifinals on Saturday.
“If I play a player against Bournemouth and he plays phenomenal, he plays the semifinal,” Mourinho said.
“So it’s not rotating because rotating looks like a player that plays against Bournemouth is to give a rest for somebody who is going to play against Spurs in the semifinal.
“The word is not rotation, the word is an opportunity, for people to play and to try to get a place in the team for Spurs. Some of the guys that played (against West Brom), they don’t have a place in that team.”
Paul Pogba might be one of them, having been substituted in the 58th minute partly because of his poor display but also because he was on a yellow card. The France midfielder has been in and out of United in recent months, showing Mourinho is not scared of dropping his big names.
“What is the criteria for managers to choose a team?” Mourinho asked. “I only know one criteria: It’s the way you play. It’s the only way I can select players.
“Do you want me to go for the price they cost, their salary, their beautiful face? The only way to go is with the performance.”
The FA Cup represents United’s last shot at winning a trophy this season and to save face given their rivals' league and cup success.