By Andy Hampson, PA
Pep Guardiola is convinced his Manchester City players will be ready to make the most of their “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to win the treble.
Having wrapped up the Premier League title last weekend, City are now focusing on next month’s FA Cup and Champions League finals, in which they will face Manchester United and Inter Milan respectively.
First, City need to finish off their Premier League campaign, which they will do at Brentford on Sunday, before the players have two days off.
Preparing for Brentford 🅰️#ManCity | @okx pic.twitter.com/O9OJx0EzFz
— Manchester City (@ManCity) May 26, 2023
They will then return to training next week and give the two glamour ties full attention.
City manager Guardiola said: “Everybody knows what position we are in. It comes once in a lifetime, twice in a lifetime?
“Being champions in the Premier League three games before the end and to play two finals – that doesn’t come every season.
“Once we are there, first of all you have to relax and enjoy and do your best, but no-one can be sure we will be in that position again.
“They are ready. I see many details – how they come up on days off to make treatments, how many hours they stay to make the treatments, how players are individually concerned maybe they cannot play the FA Cup final and Champions League final.
“When you see that you don’t have to tell anything and do anything.
“We prepare for the finals like we prepare every single game. We are not going to change any routine.”
City have a number of fitness doubts ahead of the trip to the Gtech Community Stadium and Guardiola may be unwilling to take unnecessary risks given the magnitude of the games that follow.
Defender Nathan Ake is the chief concern with the hamstring injury that has kept him out of the last five games but John Stones and Phil Foden suffered knocks at Brighton in midweek.
They were both substituted as a precaution and will be assessed, as will the likes of Jack Grealish, Ruben Dias, Aymeric Laporte and Manuel Akanji, who were left out altogether.
“It’s getting better,” Guardiola said. “They’re training Saturday afternoon and we’ll decide how they are for the last game because we need to keep our rhythm as much as possible before the long weeks to prepare for the finals.
“No-one (is ruled out) but some of them are half-half. We will see.”
Guardiola, speaking at a press conference, stressed the importance of relaxing during the days off next week before the hard work begins.
He said: “In my experience the best way to play important finals is to be disconnected as much as possible.
“When I started, it was ‘I have to prepare the final. I have to make a lot of videos’. Now it’s completely the opposite.
“We need to disconnect. Even our physios and doctors and cooks, they work incredibly hard in this period. They don’t have time off. They need to disconnect.
“Go with your families. If the sun is shining, play golf, do whatever you want and (have) quality (rest) to prepare for the finals. Arrive in the best conditions for the finals.”
Guardiola is a keen golfer himself but says his time off will be about “family time, good restaurants”.
“My back doesn’t allow me,” he said when asked if he will be hitting the fairways.