Like last season, Manchester City could make the Carabao Cup their first (and hopefully not last) silverware of the season. To do that, they must beat unfancied League One side Burton Albion over two legs, then defeat either Tottenham or Chelsea at Wembley.
The first leg of the Burton double header is tomorrow night at the Etihad Stadium and Pep Guardiola spoke to the press ahead of the tie.
Pep was asked about the departure of Brahim Diaz to Real Madrid and wished the youngster well, saying he wouldn’t keep any player who wants to leave.
“With four competitions, everyone is involved and we play games every three/four days, we need everybody.
“I don’t want players who don’t want to be here. If the guys are not happy… if you want to stay here it’s because you want to stay here.”
Guardiola spoke of patience among young players. Some, like Phil Foden, appear to have it, while others want many games at a young age.
“David Silva went on loan to other clubs before he came here. They [academy players] win the opportunity on the field, but you have to take a look at all the big clubs in Europe – how many young players are on the pitch?
“Today the the 16, 17 year olds want 40 games a season and it is difficult. Some players have patience, some don’t.”
While few of City’s academy graduates are breaking through, many are being sold for considerable fees. And that in itself is a sign of progress at youth level, as Pep alluded to.
“Congratulations to the academy for working so well. When teams like Madrid want our players, they are working really well.”
The big injury news is that Benjamin Mendy is on his way back and already doing some training. Pep expects the popular Frenchman back on the pitch in 2-3 weeks.
“Mendy is much better. He’s training alone, two weeks, three weeks maybe.”
And the rest of the players’ fitness? Good news…
Pep confirmed: “Everybody else is fit.”
There have been claims from Liverpool that City altered the grass to help them in the win over Jurgen Klopp’s men. Guardiola laughed it off.
“I’m not a greenkeeper. I never did (ask). Liverpool want to play quick, we want to play quicker. I never do tricks. I never speak with the groundsman.”