Pep Guardiola says he is considering “ridiculous” plans for Manchester City’s derby at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Saturday.
City first play at Southampton in the Carabao Cup quarter-final on Wednesday, but the manager is already assessing strategies to try to defeat their crosstown rivals.
“I have a few ideas, thoughts – ridiculous ones against United – but still I didn’t watch their last games,” Guardiola said. “I have to see the way they play at home and if they change something. I still have to review it; that is why I don’t have a clear lineup [yet] against United.”
After City beat Chelsea in last Thursday’s league fixture at Stamford Bridge Guardiola remained key players for the FA Cup win against the same opposition at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday, including Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne. Freshness will be a factor in Guardiola’s selection for the derby.
“Tea [Cup] game against Chelsea I made a lot of changes for one reason: how tired I saw some players after the game [in London], after the trip. We arrived too late back and in the training the day after I saw the players tired. It also depends on those who didn’t play against Chelsea. I would like to arrive against United with the average of minutes in the legs of the players quite similar.”
Guardiola does not feel De Bruyne or Haaland necessarily need minutes against Southampton to be at their peak to face United. “You think about that but at the same time these players have played a lot of games in the last years. Kevin: if for four or five days he doesn’t play, will he lose something? I don’t think so. I don’t think it is an issue if they do not play for eight or nine days.”
Kalvin Phillips is poised to make his first City start at Southampton and Guardiola urged the midfielder to ensure Rodri “cannot sleep” by competing with the Spaniard for a regular place in the team.
“He has to fight with Rodri for the benefit of all of us,” he said. “Rodri cannot sleep and [has to] have the feeling there is someone close to him to do it.”
Guardiola was asked whether Phillips could win this battle. “Why not?” he said. “It depends on him how he is able to fight with Rodri.”