Goodwill is no longer a thing to be expected from across Manchester’s footballing world but City Manager Pep Guardiola has come out to say he hopes his ival Jose Mourinho wins the Europa League with United.
City got back in the race for a top four finish in the Premier League with a 5-0 triumph over Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with golas from David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi racing them past Liverpool in the points table.
United are four points further back in fifth ahead of their fixture with sixth placed Arsenal at the Emirates, with Mourinho set to make some changes as the match falls in the middle of his sides Europa League semi-final crunch with Celta Vigo.
Marcus Rashford’s free-kick ensured United kept a clean sheet against Vigo on Thursday and, although Guardiola might be partial in his reason for wanting Mourinho’s attention directed elsewhere, he has stated the benefits of the Premier League having its Champions League candidates propped up for next season.
“We have four teams fighting for two places,” he said in a post-match news conference.
“Hopefully United can focus on the Europa League and next season we shall see five English teams in Europe which would be amazing.”
If City can continue with the form that got them the Crystal Palace win, no team should pose a threat to them.
Guardiola has persistently complained of his team not making use of presented opportunities over the course of seven home draws this campaign, and now he wonders what could have been different about the season, the first season to end without him winning a trophy since the beginning of his coaching career.
“Tottenham [in a 2-0 win at White Hart Lane last October] is the only team I can think of who created more chances than us [in a game],” he said.
“We are the best team in the league when it comes to creating chances – there is no competition.
“Our problem is finishing these chances – this is the most difficult thing in football. Against United [a 0-0 draw in City’s previous home game] we created 19 chances – no goals.”
Silva returned to the game after recovering from a hamstring injury he sustained in City FA’s Cup semi-final defeat to Arsenal and opened the score sheet and put up an exceptional display.
“The teams with the top quality players don’t lose the ball in the opposition area. David is one of these players,” Guardiola added.
“He rarely loses the ball. Kevin was also excellent and he was unlucky hitting the post again – I think that’s his 10th this season.”