Guardiola: Players decide the big games – not coaches

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: Josep Guardiola, Manager of Manchester City reacts during the Premier League match between Everton FC and Manchester City at Goodison Park on February 06, 2019 in Liverpool, United Kingdom. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Players, rather than coaches, are the ones who determine the outcome of big games, insists Pep Guardiola.

The Manchester City manager is preparing his side for Sunday’s big clash against Chelsea at the Etihad Stadium hoping to grab all three points in order to retain their lead at top of the Premier League.

But City aren’t the only ones who have a lot at stake with Chelsea currently in the middle of an intense battle with Manchester United and Arsenal for fourth place in the standings and a spot in next season’s Champions League.

Following United’s 3-0 win at Fulham earlier today, Chelsea will likely be extra motivated to respond after slipping out of the top four for the time being.

“(It is) not Sarri, Pep, Jurgen (Klopp) or any manager. This game belongs to the players and important games belong to special players,” said Guardiola, according to Sky Sports.

“Sometimes the best tennis players, when they need a point to save a break, they make ace. The big moments, always the big athletes come.

“Sometimes players hide in those moments but others step forward and say, ‘I’m the boss and I’m going to win this game’. The big clubs need these kinds of players. It’s simple.”

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The former Barcelona coach defended Chelsea’s run of results under Sarri this season, despite the Italian’s apparent struggles to get the best out of his squad.

“I met him (Sarri) last season when we played against Napoli and I was so curious because I enjoyed, a lot, watching his Napoli,” Guardiola said.

“Winning in Italy is not easy with Juventus but they made 90 points and played incredible football.

“I think the season from Chelsea is exceptional. They are in the final of the Carabao Cup, in the Europa League they went through easy, and in the Premier League they are there.”