Pep Guardiola still loving ‘dream’ Manchester City job as Erling Haaland returns

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola embraces striker Erling Haaland after a Premier League football match. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola embraces striker Erling Haaland after a Premier League football match. Photo: Ben Stansall/AFP

Published Jan 30, 2024


Pep Guardiola said he has "everything a manager could dream of" at Manchester City as Erling Haaland is set to return from a two-month injury layoff against Burnley on Wednesday.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, and Guardiola's former player Xavi, who is now in coach of Barcelona, both announced their intention to step down at the end of the season in recent days, citing the emotional strain that comes with management at the top level.

Guardiola also cut short his hugely successful spell in charge of Barca after four years and spent only three seasons at Bayern Munich before arriving in Manchester in 2016.

Now into his eighth season at City, Guardiola has racked up five Premier League titles and the club's first ever Champions League among 15 major trophies.

But the 53-year-old said he had no intention of stepping down soon, praising the environment that surrounds him at the Etihad.

"I have everything that a manager could dream of," he said at his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

"The hierarchy they always support me. We have changed a lot of players in seven years but all of them have been incredibly supportive.

"(It's a) good environment so I have everything. Still, I feel good and of course one day it is going to finish but I don't think about that right now."

City look primed to add to that trophy haul with Haaland back fit for the business end of the season.

The Norwegian has been sidelined for the past 10 games, but City have won nine and drawn one of them -- lifting the Club World Cup in that time -- and remain on course to defend their treble of Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

"Erling is an important player for us. Two months out, but he feels good - we have a training session (today), but apparently tomorrow he will be with us," added Guardiola.

Kevin De Bruyne and Jeremy Doku have also recently returned from injuries, while defenders John Stones and Manuel Akanji could also make their comeback in midweek.

"The most important news is almost all the squad are fit," added Guardiola.

"That is the best news. The important part of season starts now. FA Cup, the Champions League is around the corner and of course the Premier League – it's important that we have everyone available. We have all the squad, we are stronger definitely."

City are five points behind Liverpool at the top of the Premier League but have a game in hand.

Guardiola's men ended their hex at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Friday to progress to the fifth round of the FA Cup and are huge favourites to progress when they face FC Copenhagen in the Champions League last 16 next month.

And Guardiola said he can afford to throw Haaland back into the thick of the action quicker than De Bruyne, whose return has been managed after five months out with a hamstring tear.

"Kevin's was muscular with surgery," he said. "Erling's was a stress on the bone, so a different approach."