Champions let their football do the talking with 2-0 victory over West Ham in first outing since UEFA issue ban from all European competition for two seasons
Thursday 20 February 2020 10:59, UK
A defiant Pep Guardiola insists he will remain at Manchester City next season regardless of whether the club are successful in overturning their two-season European ban.
There had been fears boss Guardiola and a number of top players would seek to move elsewhere if City are unsuccessful in challenging their two-season European expulsion for breaching UEFA's Financial Fair Play regulations.
But speaking after City's 2-0 victory over West Ham, the Spaniard committed his long-term future to the club, who he revealed will fight tooth and nail against UEFA's sanctions.
"Personally, no matter what happens I will be here next season," Guardiola told Sky Sports. "If the club don't sack me - that can happen - I will stay here 100 per cent, more than ever.
"Firstly, because I want to stay more than the contract [I have] now. It's something special, I want to stay, I want to help the club, if it is possible, to maintain this level as much as possible.
"Why should I leave when I said a month ago that I love this club and I like to be here. We spoke with the players and for the next three months here we are going to focus on what we have to do and then we will have to see the sentence."
City's victory over West Ham came hours after chief executive Ferran Soriano vowed the club would do everything in their power to prove UEFA's allegations were false.
"What happened has happened, but it's not over," Guardiola added. "The club is going to appeal. I spoke a little bit about the situation and am confident that the club will defend its position.
"When someone believes they are right they have to find until the end, that is what the club is going to do. It's not finished. The club believes it is unfair so we are going to appeal and we are going to wait."
Asked to shed on the "irrefutable evidence" City claim will absolve them from UEFA's ban, Guardiola added: "I am not the right person to talk about that. I know a little bit about the reason why, but I cannot say any more.
"All I can say is that I support the club 100 per cent. I trust what they told me. There are two sides, one accused the club and the club said it's not true. We have the opportunity to defend our position and that is what we will do."
Guardiola ended his post-match press conference at the Etihad Stadium by responding to reported comments from Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, who it's claimed thanked UEFA for their "fantastic work" with Financial Fair Play in the aftermath of Manchester City's two-season European ban.
"If Barcelona are happy because we are suspended, I would say to the president let us appeal," the City boss said.
"We believe we are right, we are going to appeal, but my advice to Barcelona is don't talk too loud because everyone is involved sometimes in situations.
"We are going to appeal and hopefully in the future we can play in the Champions League against Barcelona."
Guardiola's loyalty was echoed by Kevin De Bruyne, who was once again integral in a commanding victory which keeps City clear of closest rivals Leicester in second place.
De Bruyne said the off-field issues would not affect the performances on the pitch as City look to seal a finishing position which would - appeal permitting - ensure a Champions League return.
De Bruyne said: "Obviously we were on holiday when the statement happened and I think we came back and we played football and the situation is what it is.
"We trained like normal and in the end nothing really changes for us - we just play the games that we have.
"I think the team gave their statement, so I don't know as players what else we can do. We can just play football and in the end the situation will show what it can show."
Former Manchester City defender Micah Richards...
"Why would he leave? He's been to Barcelona and he's won what he's won there. He's been to Bayern Munich and now he's at a top club in Manchester City.
"Where can he go? I've heard talks about Juventus, but would he want to go to Serie A? It's a great league but the Premier League is the best league in the world. It's the most entertaining and everyone loves it.
"He's loved by the fans, the players love him, he's building something here and he's got a great young squad here so why would he want to leave?
"I think he's got the appetite to stay here. They can start building again. This news is brilliant for City fans. It's great news for everybody involved with the club and hopefully they can move forward."
Sky Sports pundit Jamie Redknapp...
"It's great news and it's no surprise. There's something special about that man. He's an honourable man, he loves his football, he obviously loves this football club and that is the best news.
"The player they have to keep is Kevin De Bruyne but to keep the manager, that is such big news for the club.
"It's going to be tricky in terms of buying players in the summer. Players want to play in the Champions League so it just makes it a bit more difficult to attract the players, but people will still come here."