Guardiola urges City players to seize treble chance

SUNDAY, JUNE 04, 2023

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola urged his players to seize the opportunity of a lifetime after they beat arch-rivals Manchester United 2-1 in the FA Cup final on Saturday (June 3).

Victory in the first-ever all-Manchester FA Cup final, secured by Ilkay Gundogan's brace of goals, came hot on the heels of a fifth Premier League title in six seasons under the Spaniard.

Guardiola joined Arsene Wenger and Alex Ferguson as the only managers to win the English double more than once, having also achieved it in the 2018-19 season.

He and his relentless players can now achieve sporting immortality next Saturday in Istanbul against Inter Milan when City can be crowned European champions for the first time and match United's 1998-99 still unique treble under Ferguson.

Pep Guardiola celebrates after winning the FA Cup

"We are in a position like probably we'll never be again," Guardiola, who has turned City into an unstoppable force since arriving in 2016, winning 11 trophies, told reporters.

"We have to win the Champions League to be recognised, a team like us to be recognised. So we have to admit it, without the Champions league it's been amazing, fun, but we'll miss it. We have to take responsibility that we have to do it."
Ilkay Gundogan celebrates scoring their second goal with John Stones

City were not even at their best against United in Saturday's Wembley showpiece in which Gundogan scored after 12 seconds -- the fastest ever FA Cup final goal.

But they still had too much for a United side who levelled via a Bruno Fernandes penalty and pressed late on but could have few complaints about the final result.

Guardiola was tearful at the final whistle as he embraced his celebrating players. But he quickly re-focused on the bigger picture that is now looming large.

Bruno Fernandes celebrates scoring their first goal with teammates

""I think about what we have to do to beat Inter. So I spoke with the players many times, forget about what surrounds outside, the people talk about trebles or whether they allow us to win the treble, forget about it, focus on what we have to do to beat them," said Guardiola, who led Barcelona to a treble of La Liga, the Champions League and the Copa del Rey in 2008-09.

Ilkay Gundogan celebrates with the trophy and teammates after winning the FA Cup

The one cloud on the horizon for City is Gundogan's potential move away from the Etihad Stadium this summer, possibly to Guardiola's old club Barcelona.

German midfielder Gundogan, 32, remains an irreplaceable component in Guardiola's squad and once again showed his knack of scoring crucial goals.

He also scored braces in vital Premier League wins over Everton and Leeds United as City relentlessly reeled in Arsenal over the final weeks of the season.

Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag looks dejected after the match