Manchester City vs Manchester United: What did Pep Guardiola not like about their first-half performance?

Manchester City were labelled as the clear favourites against a struggling United side that finished eight in the Premier League table.

Manchester City in a file photo; Credit: Twitter@ManCity
By Karthik Raman | May 28, 2024 | 3 Min Read follow icon Follow Us

Manchester City ended their 2023-24 season with a surprise 2-1 defeat in the FA Cup final. In an eagerly-anticipated Manchester derby, City were the outright favourites, thanks to their impressive form of late. They were narrowly edged out by Real Madrid in the shootout of the Champions League quarter-finals. Other than that, City have been near-perfect in 2024. Just recently, they edged out Arsenal on the final day to win a record fourth successive Premier League trophy.

Pep Guardiola on first half

As a result, Manchester City were labelled as the clear favourites against a struggling United side that finished eight in the Premier League table. However, it did not go according to the plan at the weekend. Pep Guardiola analysed the first half of the FA Cup final, in which United scored twice. “[We had] maybe not the rhythm in the first half, but they know it, they struggled this season and we knew it, if you were in the other position they will give everything to perform as best as possible,” Guardiola, quoted on the club’s website, said after the match.

He added: “But in general, we were what we were especially in the second half and in certain minutes of the first, we had more man behind which was not needed, we needed more men in front in the pockets and in central positions. We struggled to find it. But we fixed it and did it better in the second half. We had the chances to equalise and reduce the margins from 0-2. With Erling [Haaland] what happened [hitting the bar] and after the tempo and some decisions, the key influence in the game and unfortunately we could not do it.”

‘The motivation has to be in ourselves’

The Man City manager also spoke about his squad staying on the pitch after the full-time whistle to watch their local rival Manchester United lift the FA Cup trophy. “Always we have done it. I lose some finals and always you have to stay to take respect for the opponents. Always it has to be like that. We played to win. They win. They deserve it. Congratulations. What can we say? I could say a few things but, it is what it is. It’s not going to change next season something because it motivates because United lift the trophy. The motivation has to be in ourselves and do better,” he stated.

With the season coming to an end, Guardiola is not looking ahead to the next campaign just yet. He looked back at the recently-concluded season on a positive note. “Next season is next season, it’s far away. Now it is difficult for me to process even after winning the Premier League. Now it’s a question of calm, relax. We will be back as best as possible,” he explained.

He added: “I am not thinking next season we have to do this or that. Step-by-step and we will see what happens with the squad that we will have and start to work and run and we will see. This season has been amazing and the journey was really good. We lived it week-in, week-out, good mood, good vibes and the team has been extraordinary the way we played the Champions League, we didn’t lose one game.”

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