Manchester City may be my last job in coaching, says tetchy Pep Guardiola

Manchester City 2, Burnley 1: Pep Guardiola has suggested he is approaching the end of his coaching career.

Manchester City may be my last job in coaching, says tetchy Pep Guardiola

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss is just six months into his latest assignment at Manchester City.

Guardiola recently said he does not intend to emulate Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and spend 20 years in the job, but it now seems he is already thinking about the end of his career.

The Spaniard made the revelation in an interview with NBC, publicised soon after City ground out a hard-fought 2-1 win over Burnley.

“I will be at Manchester for the next three seasons, maybe more, but I am arriving at the end of my coaching career, of this I am sure,” said the 45-year-old.

“I will not be on the bench until I am 60 or 65 years old. I feel that the the process of my goodbye has already started.”

Guardiola was asked about this at his post-match press conference but elaborated little. “It might be one of my last teams,” he said.

Asked why he might retire, he said: “Because I decide so.”

City’s unconvincing title bid stuttered into the new year with a home win over the worst away team in the Premier League, having played all but 31 minutes with 10 men following the by-now customary dismissal of Fernandinho.

The Brazilian midfielder was shown a red card for the third time in six weeks and can expect a four-match suspension this week, hot on the heels of the three-game ban from which he returned on St Stephen’s Day.

But in this increasingly taxing debut season in English football for Guardiola, he could thank goals from Gael Clichy and half-time substitute Sergio Aguero for averting real trouble.

This, after all, is the lowest league position and the furthest City have found themselves from first place in terms of points in the eight full seasons of Abu Dhabi ownership — hardly what the brochure promised when Guardiola made his arrival in England last summer.

No wonder Guardiola seemed particularly touchy in his post-match press conference when asked about Fernandinho’s sending off, preferring instead to focus on the Burnley consolation goal which, he claimed, featured a foul on keeper Claudio Bravo.

“Yes, from the team with the most ball possession,” said Guardiola sarcastically when asked if City had a disciplinary problem. “Yeah, yeah, yeah. We had a lot of disciplinary problems. Now we expect what the FA decide. We try to play football, don’t forget it. My teams always in my career try to play football. I cannot control the other circumstances.

“It is always our fault (foul), it’s always City’s fault. Yeah, yeah. I saw other games. All around the world, the Burnley goal on Claudio Bravo is a fault (foul). Here, and all around the world, the rules say the goalkeeper in the six yard box cannot be touched.

“He goes here and the striker does this (slapping his wrist). OK so I have to adapt and I have to understand there are special rules here in England. Now I learn, so now we’re going to play.

“I didn’t see Fernandinho’s. But I saw the fault for Claudio Bravo, that was definite. Now we are going to accept three or four games. But remember it was a foul on Bravo.”

The half-time introduction of Aguero and David Silva, left out following the dismal showing at Liverpool on Saturday, showed City’s quality.

French full-back Clichy struck on 57 minutes after a Bacary Sagna cross had been headed to him on the corner of the area by Michael Keane.

Clichy cut inside Scott Arfield before planting a low shot into the bottom right-hand corner. And four minutes later, City took control when Kevin De Bruyne’s break played Raheem Sterling into the area, thanks to a slip by defender Ben Mee.

Sterling fell in the area as goalkeeper Tom Heaton blocked at his feet but substitute Aguero was on hand to steer the ball into an empty net from a wide angle via the post and defender Matt Lowton.

City still faced an anxious conclusion to the game after a mistake by goalkeeper Bravo from a corner saw Nicolas Otamendi clear off the line and Mee shoot in the rebound off the underside of the bar.

Sagna was fortunate to escape a red card in that scramble, lashing out at George Boyd as the winger grabbed the ball from the net to speed up the kick-off.

“It’s a tough one but it’s a sending off because he swipes out at Boydie,” said Burnley manager Sean Dyche.

If it all started and ended as a relatively routine, if not comfortable, afternoon for City, that had not appeared to be the case when Fernandinho collected City’s seventh red card in 30 games this season.

Guardiola recently claimed he did not coach tackling — to widespread ridicule — and that statistic alone, plus the manner in which Fernandinho launched himself, two feet off the ground, at Johann Berg Gudmundsson after 31 minutes certainly bore that out.

But perhaps the drastic shift in balance brought about by City going down to 10 men worked against Burnley.

Joey Barton has rejoined Burnley on a deal until the end of the season, the club announced last night.

The issue had been complicated by an FA probe into alleged betting, with Barton facing a possible fine and suspension after being charged for allegedly placing 1,260 bets over a 10-year period.

A one-match suspension Barton — who left Burnley to join Rangers over the summer — was handed in November by the Scottish FA for breaching betting regulations has been served. Burnley’s next match is Saturday’s FA Cup third round tie at Sunderland.

MAN CITY (4-1-4-1):

Bravo 5; Sagna 7, Otamendi 7, Kolarov 5, Clichy 7; Fernandinho 4; Navas 5 (Silva 46, 6), Toure 7, De Bruyne 7, Sterling 7 (Stones 89); Iheanacho 5 (Aguero 46, 8).

Subs (not used):

Caballero, Zabaleta, Nolito, Garcia.

BURNLEY (4-4-2):

Heaton 7; Lowton 7, Keane 7, Mee 5, Ward 6; Boyd 6, Arfield 5 (Bamford 88), Hendrick 6, Gudmundsson 6 (Defour 58, 6); Gray 6, Barnes 5 (Vokes 68, 6).

Subs (not used):

Robinson, Tarkowski, Darikwa, O’Neill.

Referee:

L Mason.

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