14 Oct One game at a time for Pep
Pep Guardiola insists next week’s trip to Barcelona will not cloud his thinking for Manchester City’s clash with Everton on Saturday.
The City boss is certain to be the main focus of attention ahead of City’s Champions League outing at the Nou Camp on Wednesday having enjoyed enormous success during his time in charge of the Catalan giants.
That game will also gauge City’s progress under Guardiola this term but, for now, Premier League matters are the main concern.
Asked where his priorities lay ahead of a spell of seven games in 21 days, Guardiola said at a press conference: “I never prioritise. Of course when we play League Cup it’s a little bit different but for the other competitions the next one is the most important game.
“I’m going to see how the internationals are physically, their mentality, their mental approach. Some of the players recover quickly, others need more time.
“Tomorrow is the most important game. I don’t know what’s going to happen against Everton so the best approach for the next one is to win tomorrow.”
Raheem Sterling and Kevin De Bruyne, two players who have flourished so far this term, both appear to be winning their fitness battles to feature.
Guardiola, however, was vague when asked about the progress of his injured players, including captain Vincent Kompany.
He said: “They are much, much, much, much better. Some will play tomorrow, some won’t. They trained in the last two or three days, but I don’t know how many minutes they can do. We’ll have to think about it in the morning.”
The visit of Everton pits Guardiola against his former Barcelona team-mate Ronald Koeman for the first time in his managerial career.
The pair, both members of Barca’s 1992 European Cup-winning side, have a long friendship dating back to when they roomed together as players.
Guardiola said: “I switched off the light before we went to sleep! When he needed water – wake up to water for him. I was the youngest so I adapted to him.
“I think he was one of the first central defenders with the quality not just to defend. He was one of the few guys that I never saw fall in important games – he always played well. He was by far one of the best central defenders I’ve ever met.
“Last season with Southampton he did great, he did an extraordinary job and they qualified for European competition. They (Everton) started really well this season as well.
“Recently the results weren’t so good but they have a great team. They use Romelu Lukaku a lot, for instance, and do a lot of interesting things on the pitch.”
Koeman has also spoken this week about his friendship with Guardiola and how impressed he has been by City’s start to the season.
“Ronald is a big friend of mine so I appreciate his words,” Guardiola said.