GUARDIOLA ‘HAPPY AND EX­CITED’ TO COM­MIT FU­TURE TO MAN CITY

Man­ager, who led the club to a record-break­ing Premier League ti­tle win, agrees con­tract ex­ten­sion until 2021

The National - News - - SPORT - STEVE LUCKINGS

Manch­ester City’s dom­i­nance of English foot­ball looks set to con­tinue for the long term af­ter the club an­nounced on Thurs­day they have agreed a con­tract ex­ten­sion that will keep man­ager Pep Guardiola at the club until the con­clu­sion of the 2020/21 sea­son.

Un­der Guardiola’s guid­ance this sea­son, City won both the Premier League ti­tle and the League Cup as the club em­barked on a record-break­ing campaign that saw them be­come the first side in English top-flight his­tory to reach 100 points in a sea­son.

He was re­warded for his efforts by land­ing both the Premier League and League Man­agers’ As­so­ci­a­tion Man­ager of the Year ac­co­lades at the LMA awards din­ner func­tion on Tues­day evening.

“I am so happy and ex­cited. It’s a plea­sure to be able to work here,” Guardiola said on sign­ing his con­tract ex­ten­sion.

“I en­joy work­ing with our play­ers ev­ery day and we will try to do our best to­gether in the com­ing years.

“As a man­ager, you have to feel good to be with the play­ers – and I feel good.

“I will fo­cus on the de­sire of my play­ers to be­come a bet­ter team and ev­ery day that’s what I will try to do – to im­prove on the pitch and im­prove our play­ers.

“We have a young squad with an av­er­age age of 23 and we want to keep tak­ing steps for­ward and main­tain the lev­els we’ve achieved this sea­son.”

It marks the end of an in­cred­i­ble campaign for City, who on Mon­day drew a crowd of around 100,000 fans to watch Guardiola, his staff and play­ers cel­e­brate with an open-top bus pa­rade through Manch­ester to show off their Premier League and League Cup tro­phies.

Fol­low­ing a 2016/17 campaign with­out sil­ver­ware that cul­mi­nated in a fourth-place fin­ish, City set a new gold stan­dard un­der Guardiola this term.

As well as set­ting a new points record, City were crowned cham­pi­ons on April 15 with a record-equal­ing five games to spare fol­low­ing Manch­ester United’s shock 1-0 de­feat to West Bromwich Al­bion at Old Traf­ford.

Gabriel Je­sus’ goal against Southamp­ton on the fi­nal day of the campaign saw City’s “Cen­tu­ri­ons” ex­tend their goals tally to 106 while also reach­ing a mile­stone of 32 wins in a sea­son, beat­ing the pre­vi­ous mark set by Chelsea by two.

I am very much look­ing for­ward to the con­tin­ued im­pact of his work and to ful­fill­ing our shared am­bi­tions KHAL­DOON AL MUBARAK Manch­ester City chair­man

The 19-point gap be­tween City and ri­vals Manch­ester United in sec­ond is the widest since the Premier League’s in­cep­tion in 1992.

Ear­lier in the campaign, City set a new record for con­sec­u­tive wins – 18 – with 11 of them away from home, also a record. They would go on to achieve 16 vic­to­ries on the road over­all.

The num­ber of points gleaned away from the Eti­had Sta­dium – 50 – also set a new bench­mark.

“We are de­lighted to an­nounce the ex­ten­sion of Pep’s con­tract through to 2021,” City chair­man Khal­doon Al Mubarak said. “In his two sea­sons with us, he has fos­tered an in­cred­i­ble spirit within the squad and sig­nif­i­cantly con­trib­uted to our progress both on and off the field. In do­ing so he has em­bod­ied the pas­sion and com­mit­ment we all have for the club.

“I am very much look­ing for­ward to the con­tin­ued im­pact of his work and to ful­fill­ing our shared am­bi­tions in the com­ing sea­sons.”

Se­cur­ing the long-term fu­ture of one of the most highly-re­garded man­agers in the world rep­re­sents a coup for City’s hi­er­ar­chy.

The for­mer Barcelona and Bay­ern Munich man­ager usu­ally works in three-year cy­cles, as he did in both his pre­vi­ous roles at Camp Nou and the Al­lianz Arena.

Guardiola, 47, is into the sec­ond year of his cur­rent three­year deal, which was orig­i­nally set to ex­pire in the sum­mer of 2019, but will ex­tend his stay in Manch­ester to five years should he see the new con­tract through to its con­clu­sion.

City have been proac­tive in se­cur­ing their best tal­ents on long-term con­tracts.

Bel­gian mid­fielder Kevin de Bruyne, 26, signed fresh terms in Jan­uary keep­ing him at the club until 2023, while goal­keeper Eder­son com­mit­ted his long-term fu­ture to the club the day af­ter last Sun­day’s fi­nal game of the sea­son against Southamp­ton.

The 24-year-old Brazil­ian’s new con­tract will see him re­main at the Eti­had Sta­dium until 2025.

Manch­ester City FC

AFP

Pep Guardiola has com­mit­ted him­self to Manch­ester City until 2021, just days af­ter the club won the Premier League ti­tle

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