The Calm Before The Storm

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Pep Guardiola radiates a personality first seen towards the conclusion of last season as he prepares to lead Manchester City into the furnace of Anfield for Sunday’s confrontation with Liverpool. The intensity of a manager at ease with his squad and himself has surpassed the intensity of a manager at ease.

This new spirit emerged in May, when City defeated Paris Saint-Germain in their Champions League semi-final to reach their first final. It became much more intense when Guardiola won his third Premier League title with three games to spare. With a new season ahead of him and new challenges, it was easy to believe Guardiola would revert to his more well-known image. However, following City’s 2-0 loss to PSG on Tuesday, the manager was once again cheerful, expressing satisfaction with his team’s performance.

When asked if emotions are high before such a high-stakes match as Sunday’s trip to Anfield, where City won 4-1 over Liverpool last season for the first time in 18 years, Guardiola says:“Absolutely I enjoy them – all those feelings have to be there: excitement, nervous, pressure, all those emotions, yes. If you don’t have it for the big important games, then it shows that this business is not for you.

“Maybe you sleep not so well the day before and well after – if the result or performance has not been good. [But] you can’t go there like you’re going to the restaurant with friends because then it’s not for you. I still have nerves before the game, wondering if the plan will go good – if you don’t get this you are in the wrong business. You have to feel [this].”

Guardiola is similarly unfazed by City’s task of playing a Jürgen Klopp-led Liverpool side that leads the Premier League by a point and will tear at the champs with a boisterous Anfield shouting them on.“They won the Champions League and the Premier League [under Klopp] – and all the time they are playing and competing,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what happens, it doesn’t matter which competition. They play with high intensity in all senses, they are a typical Jürgen team, a fantastic team”.

Guardiola’s nerves are expected to crumble at some time, but he appears to have a renewed feeling of self-possession that cannot be shaken, which is a good sign for City’s campaign.

Source : guardian sport

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