Pep Guardiola would like Paul Pogba to play in next week’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford and does not believe the influential United midfielder wants City stars to be struck down by injury.
United’s chances of getting Pogba’s three-match ban for treading on Hector Bellerin during Saturday’s pulsating 3-1 win at Arsenal overturned appear remote, a significant blow for boss Jose Mourinho with Premier League leaders City next on the agenda domestically.
Guardiola’s side restored their eight-point lead over United at the summit on Sunday when David Silva’s 83rd-minute volley sealed a 2-1 win over West Ham.
Pogba’s pending ban was gleefully received by some City fans after the France international earlier told the BBC’s Football Focus he hoped their rivals would “get some very important players injured”, as had been the case at United while the gap at the top widened.
Speaking after the West Ham game, Guardiola seemed bemused by such a sentiment.
“Did he say that? Hopefully we don’t have injuries,” the Catalan told a news conference as he began scratching his head.
“I would like it if Paul could play against us because I like to face the teams with the best players possible to see if we are able to beat them.
“In the end, I think it was an expression. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want other players to get injured.”
City travel to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday, with top spot in Group F already secured.
Nevertheless, Guardiola suggested he might not make the wholesale changes expected with the derby on the horizon.
He added: “I said to the players in the locker room that the guy who does not want to play against Shakhtar, let me know please.
“The moment we take the bus and the plane to go to Ukraine I am going to prepare the game to win the game – out of respect for Shakhtar, respect for Napoli and respect for the competition.
“It is a big opportunity to get 18 points out of 18, which is prestigious for the club. The best way to prepare for the United game is playing good against Shakhtar.”
Silva’s late intervention followed Raheem Sterling doing likewise in the closing stages at Huddersfield before striking deep into injury time against Southampton last time out.
The trio of 2-1 wins have encouraged parallels with the kind of victories regularly claimed by United in their pomp under Sir Alex Ferguson.
“I heard about that, about the Fergie Time. I was not here in that period but of course we have to have that,” Guardiola added.
“In the end, what we have shown in the last games is that we never give up.
“What has happened is because the opponent does not want to play, they want to just defend. I understand, I am not judging. Please don’t misunderstand me.
“But, if we can take something from the Fergie Time it is welcome, a pleasure.”
An Entrepreneur and Philanthropist. Editor-in-Chief of www.233times.com. A Senior Journalist with Ghanaian Chronicle Newspaper. An alumnus of Adisadel College where he read General Arts. He holds first degree in Bachelor of Arts from the University of Ghana; Political Science (major) and History (minor). He has also pursued MSc Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and Energy with Public Relations (PR) at the Robert Gordon University in the United Kingdom. He is a 2018 Mandela Washington Fellow who studied at Clark Atlanta University in USA on the Business and Entrepreneurship track. His mentors are Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffet, Sam Jonah, Kwaku Sakyi Addo and Piers Morganview all posts by: Nana Kwesi Coomson
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