Guardiola puts City on red alert as United threaten treble bid in FA Cup final
LONDON, June 2, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City
stars that Manchester United are capable of wrecking their treble dreams in
Saturday's FA Cup final.
City will arrive at Wembley this weekend hoping to complete the second part
of their incredible bid to win the Premier League, Champions League and FA
Cup in a single season.
Guardiola's side clinched a fifth Premier League title in six seasons with
three games to spare, giving the City boss an opportunity to rest key players
and fine-tune his tactics ahead of the two matches that will define their
After facing bitter rivals United in the first all-Manchester FA Cup final,
City travel to Istanbul to play Inter Milan in the Champions League final on
Guardiola's sole focus this week has been United, who stand in the way of the
club's attempt to emulate their neighbours' historic treble triumph in 1999.
United are the only other English club to have won all three major trophies
in one campaign and Erik ten Hag's men would dearly love to stop City moving
closer to matching their achievement.
United's treble winners only secured the title with a win against Tottenham
on the last day of the season and needed an astonishing late fightback to
beat Bayern Munich in the Champions League final.
Those victories tested the nerves of everyone associated with Alex Ferguson's
team and City could be about to experience the most fraught part of their own
Inter, who are third in a relatively weak Serie A, will be underdogs against
City next week.
But United should pose a sterner threat and Guardiola is well aware Ten Hag's
team have enough quality to hurt them if they are not at their best.
Guardiola personally watched United's recent 4-1 rout of Chelsea, while
memories of City's 2-1 defeat at Old Trafford in January still haunt the
"I am more focused on United right now. I saw their game against Chelsea. I
was really impressed and I have started to review a little bit what they did
to us in the game at Old Trafford," Guardiola said.
"As in the past, we have to be careful. I would be careful anyway but after
Thursday and their games recently, we are going to prepare the best we can."
- 'Special game' -
Despite Guardiola's caution, Abu Dhabi-backed City have become English
football's first dynasty since United's Ferguson era and have every reason to
believe they will lift the FA Cup for the second time in the Spaniard's
City, who thrashed United 6-3 in October, reeled off a blistering streak of
12 successive league victories to land a third consecutive title.
Last weekend's 1-0 loss at Brentford, in which City fielded a weakened team,
was their first defeat in 26 games in all competitions.
Inevitably, Erling Haaland will be City's key man at the end of a brilliant
first season in England.
The Norway striker has scored 52 goals in all competitions, including a
single-season record 36 in the Premier League.
United are among Haaland's victims after he hit a hat-trick against them in
October, but Ten Hag came up with a plan to hold him goalless in the rematch.
That was another notable achievement in an impressive first season for Ten
Hag, who ended United's six-year trophy drought with a League Cup final
victory against Newcastle in February.
Ten Hag is only the second manager in United's history to win a major trophy
in his first season and adding City's scalp at Wembley would underline the
vast improvement under the Dutchman.
United, who finished third in the Premier League, are relishing the
opportunity to ruin City's treble hopes, even without injured forward Anthony
"Of course, we know it's a big final, a special game. We've been the whole
year fighting to be in that position to win titles. We will try absolutely
everything to try to win," United keeper David De Gea said.