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We want to be there – Pep Guardiola determined to keep Man City on their perch

Sir Jim Ratcliffe wants Manchester United to overhaul the likes of City and Liverpool.

Andy Hampson
Friday 23 February 2024 22:30 GMT
Pep Guardiola’s side take on Brighton this weekend (Martin Rickett/PA).
Pep Guardiola’s side take on Brighton this weekend (Martin Rickett/PA).

Pep Guardiola has warned Sir Jim Ratcliffe Manchester City will not be knocked off their perch easily.

The City boss has also pointed out to Manchester United’s newly-arrived major investor that reaching the top of the game – and staying there – will be a tough challenge.

Ratcliffe this week reprised the words of Sir Alex Ferguson when setting out his ambition for the Old Trafford club.

The billionaire Ineos owner, who has acquired a 27.7 per cent stake in United, said he wanted to knock both City and Liverpool, whom the Red Devils have fallen behind significantly in recent years, “off their perch”.

Ferguson famously spoke in similar terms in his early days as United manager in the late 1980s when Liverpool were the dominant force.

Guardiola said: “I’m pretty sure with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the other people that United are going to take a step forwards.

“But that is normal, it’s not just United. All the teams want it. We want to be there and, as long as I’m here, we will try to be there again.

“What I want is Man City, my team, being there. The rest, I don’t care. We want to be there.”

The on-field gulf between United and present-day City is wide, with Guardiola’s men having won 14 trophies in the past six years to their rivals’ one, capped by last season’s treble.

Guardiola says that success is down to a lot of hard work both on and off the field.

He said: “You don’t have success if all the elements of the club are not together, it’s impossible. It doesn’t belong to one player, one manager, one anything.

“All the details have to be on the same path, aligned, all of them, otherwise it’s more difficult.

“Still we are there after what happened over seven or eight years. Few clubs can do it and still we are there. The biggest contenders know how difficult it is.”

It is rare for anyone connected to United to speak of City, or Liverpool, in such positive terms as Ratcliffe – even if he did also refer to those clubs as “the enemy”.

You don’t have success if all the elements of the club are not together, it’s impossible

Pep Guardiola

Guardiola, whose side travel to Brighton in the Premier League this weekend, feels that acknowledgement is perhaps United’s first step on a journey back towards the top.

He said: “It’s the truth! As (soon) as the teams admit it, they will be closer to us. If they want to deny it for things that are not the reality then it’s their problem. It’s not our problem.

“When I’ve been below teams I’ve always admired them and thought about what we need to do to be close, to challenge them.

“When we were below and United were winning, we were watching them, admiring them. We wanted to learn from them. The period of Sir Alex Ferguson – the generation with Roy Keane, David Beckham, Gary Neville – and all those big, big players, Rio Ferdinand – I’m pretty sure City admired and thought, ‘We want to be there’.

“Now we are there. That’s why, for these type of comments, I have the feeling that they will be back.”

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