MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says his team are tired and need the help of their fans for Saturday’s derby against Manchester United.
City, who have a 16-point lead, can win the Premier League title with a victory over Jose Mourinho’s side at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, but after their 3-0 loss to Liverpool in the Champions League on Wednesday, Guardiola said the players needed a lift.
“We need the support because we are so tired (and) because United rest all week. We had just a little recovery physically and mentally because our game at Anfield was so tough,” the Spaniard told a news conference on Friday.
“That’s why it will be so important that in the bad moments, more are going to happen, bad moments will happen next Tuesday (as well), that they feel our supporters are there.
“Sometimes the players or managers, the team, they don’t deserve sometimes to be supported (with) what they have done. But that is not the case – so we need it,” he added.
Guardiola said it was not yet clear whether Argentine forward Sergio Aguero would be ready to return from the knee injury which kept him out of action at Anfield.
Yet the former Barcelona coach gave his backing to Brazilian forward Gabriel Jesus, despite the striker’s self-critical comments about his Anfield display.
“He’s so strong, he knows how we like him, he knows how we support him,” Guardiola said.
“He is 21 years old, his birthday was this week before the Anfield game. It is the first time he plays in Anfield, in his first knockout (phase) in the Champions League. You have to live these situations, once, twice or three times to become better players. Always the first time you suffer, the next time he’ll be better.
“I don’t agree with him, he played good, he did what we spoke (about),” he added.
Guardiola had suggested before the Liverpool defeat that he would rotate his side against United but he was tight-lipped about his intentions on Friday.
“We are going to pick the team to win tomorrow, there is no doubt about that. But of course we have one eye thinking about Tuesday,” he said.
Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis