By Mike McGrath
With all eyes on Mauricio Pochettino who is being considered for the Manchester United job and a return to the Premier League – and United’s structure behind the scenes scrutinised after their decline since Sir Alex Ferguson’s era – Pep Guardiola has underlined the importance of Man City director of football Txiki Begiristain in keeping him at the club.
“One of the reasons why I extended my contract two times is because Txiki is here,” said Guardiola. “He trusted me as a manager when I wasn’t anyone in world football, training in the fourth division and he trusted me when he could choose many incredible managers at that time.
“We met each other when I was 19. Since then, we have been close friends and we work together incredibly well and when we are winning we try to analyse why and when we are losing we try to analyse why and no one judges the other one, good or bad.
“I’m never judged for results, (but) for our capacity, him and me. He never goes to the media. Always success is for the other ones, he is always behind the scenes and you don’t find these type of people in this world because egos are also so so high.
“I can do my job completely free, accepting the good moments and bad moments. In the bad moments, he is closer than ever and in the good moments we celebrate with a glass of wine.”
Jack Grealish is poised to miss out with a muscular problem, while Kevin De Bruyne is out isolating with Covid-19.
“I think the biggest challenge is for both teams both managers know each other quite well,” said City midfielder Ilkay Gundogan. “Unfortunately he was able to beat us in the past quite regularly and also in the Tottenham games so that is not really an advantage for us but in the modern game all the teams started to know each other quite well, they have possibilities to scout each other so I don’t think there are much elements left.”