Pep Guardiola has revealed he almost joined Wigan when he left Barcelona.
The Manchester City manager, who is preparing his side for an FA Cup fifth-round trip to the DW Stadium tonight, held talks with the Latics towards the end of his playing career in 2005.
Wigan, then managed by Paul Jewell, were newly established in the Premier League while Guardiola was in his mid-30s and looking for a final challenge in a glittering career spent mainly with Barcelona.
No deal materialised but Guardiola, who also spoke to then City boss Stuart Pearce over a potential move to England around the same time, claims he was not up to standard.
“He tried to sign me when I was a football player, years ago,” said Guardiola, now 47, of Jewell’s attempts to lure him to Wigan. “I wasn’t good enough!
“That is the truth. I was old, really old as a football player. I knocked on the door, I tried to come here to play in English football as a player but I was not able.
“The same happened here at Manchester City when I came here with Stuart Pearce. They were so clever! I was not good enough.”
Wigan boss Paul Cook does not rate his side’s chances of knocking City’s “well-oiled machine” out of the cup tonight. But the straight-talking Liverpudlian, who claims Pep Guardiola’s side stand on the verge of greatness, promised his players will fight fire with fire in their fifth-round tie at the DW Stadium.
“Will we upset them on the night? Percentage-wise, very small. But will we give it a go? Of course we will,” former Sligo Rovers boss Cook said.
“We’re not going to sit off them. We’re genuinely not going to sit back, it’s not our thing. Why would we want to sit back and wait for them to open us up? We’ve got to try and affect the game.”
The Latics, who have beaten Bournemouth and West Ham on their way to the last 16, pulled off an almighty upset at Wembley in 2013 to beat City in the final and dumped them out of the competition the following season to reach the semi-finals.
But Cook, bidding to lead the Latics straight back to the Championship in his first season in charge, said the City side moulded by Guardiola is an altogether different proposition.
“I don’t think you can heap enough superlatives on them. Now it’s a case of everyone acknowledging exactly what they are, which is a proper well-oiled machine,” he said.
With the Carabao Cup final against Arsenal to come next Sunday, Guardiola will consider some rotation, but playing Claudio Bravo in place of first-choice goalkeeper Ederson is the only change he is prepared to discuss.
“Claudio is going to play,” Guardiola said. “We are in the Carabao Cup final thanks to him. I cannot forget what happened: he saved two rounds of penalties and the way he played.
“It all depends on the performance and the quality but in this competition Claudio is going to play.
“In the top clubs you need two good goalkeepers, you cannot survive with just one.”
The Emirates FA Cup: Wigan Athletic v Man City
Tonight: DW Stadium, 7.55pm
Referee: Anthony Taylor
TV: BBC One
Betting: Wigan 16/1, Man City 1/7, Draw 13/2
Wigan Athletic v Man CityTonight: DW Stadium, 7.55pmReferee: Anthony TaylorTV: BBC OneBetting: Wigan 16/1,Man City 1/7, Draw 13/2
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved