Pep needs more time

For luck to beat Barcelona

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

PEP GUARDI­OLA is the world’s top man­ager but needs more time to make Manchester City great and will have to hope for some luck to beat his for­mer club Barcelona in the Cham­pi­ons League to­mor­row morn­ing (Malaysian time), says the Span­ish club’s ex-for­ward David Villa.

“Guardi­ola is the best man­ager in the world but I think it is too early to com­pare his Barcelona side with Manchester City. We have to give him time be­cause I am sure he will make City a great team,” Villa told Reuters in a tele­phone in­ter­view.

City won their open­ing six matches in the Premier League this sea­son be­fore slump­ing to a six-game win­less streak in all com­pe­ti­tions – the long­est of Guardi­ola’s man­age­rial ca­reer.

They have taken one point from their last two Cham­pi­ons League group games at Celtic and Barca, and need a win against the Spa­niards in the re­turn to boost their Euro­pean hopes. Barca top Group C with nine points ahead of City on four, Borus­sia Moenchenglad­bach who have three and Celtic with one. Af­ter City’s 4-0 hu­mil­i­a­tion at the Nou Camp ear­lier this month, Guardi­ola will be hop­ing they can keep five-time Bal­lon d’Or win­ner Lionel Messi quiet at The Eti­had Sta­dium. How­ever, 2011 Cham­pi­ons League win­ner Villa, now ply­ing his trade in Ma­jor League Soc­cer with New York City FC at the age of 34, said Guardi­ola’s tac­tics alone may not be enough to see his team progress to the next round. “The Cham­pi­ons League is not an easy com­pe­ti­tion,” Villa, an in­te­gral part of Guardi­ola’s Barca side, said from New York.

“You’re play­ing the best teams in the world so it’s tough. The key to be­ing suc­cess­ful in the com­pe­ti­tion is a mix­ture be­tween find­ing con­sis­tency, play­ing in the right way at the knock­out stages, hav­ing the best play­ers, the best coach, the best tac­tics and a bit of good luck, too. It is very dif­fi­cult.”

Barcelona, who have won all five of their meet­ings with City, need a point to guar­an­tee a place in the last 16 with the La Liga cham­pi­ons among only three sides who have a per­fect record in this sea­son’s com­pe­ti­tion.

De­spite City’s poor over­all record in the Cham­pi­ons League, and their in­con­sis­tent form of late, Villa be­lieves the 45-year-old Guardi­ola will even­tu­ally trans­form his play­ers into world class per­form­ers and bring sil­ver­ware to The Eti­had.

“Pep Guardi­ola is a very spe­cial coach. You can learn and im­prove with him while train­ing,” said Villa, who is be­ing tipped for a re­call to the Spain squad next week.

“I have al­ways said that af­ter my time in Barcelona, I am a bet­ter player thanks to ev­ery­thing he gave me.”

Villa, whose in­ter­na­tional hon­ours in­clude win­ners’ medals from Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, spent three sea­sons with the Cata­lan club, win­ning a to­tal of eight tro­phies. – Reuters

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