MIDDLESBROUGH, UK: Pep Guardiola insists he is keeping all his options open as he pursues a trophy in his first season at Manchester City.
Guardiola’s side are still in contention in the Premier League and Champions League, but the City manager appears equally committed to success in the FA Cup.
Facing a quarterfinal at Premier League strugglers Middlesbrough on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), Guardiola admirably resisted the temptation to rest several of his most influential players with a Champions League trip to Monaco only four days away.
The Spaniard was rewarded with a 2-0 victory that represented the ideal preparation for Wednesday’s game where they lead 5-3 after the last 16 first leg, and a daunting run of Premier League fixtures against Liverpool, Arsenal and Chelsea.
By the time they go to Stamford Bridge on April 5, the FA Cup may provide the sole remaining opportunity for Guardiola to fulfil his desire to lift the trophy that means City’s season will not be considered a total failure.
His players displayed a similar passionate desire to make progress against Middlesbrough, who were indebted to their second-choice goalkeeper Brad Guzan for a series of splendid saves either side of goals from David Silva and Sergio Aguero, two players Guardiola might have rested.
“No, I was not tempted to rest people. Today was a ‘final’ and I didn’t want to be sat here saying I am out of the cup,” said the City boss.
“Now we need to take things step by step and see which rivals we are going to face in the semi-finals.
“This is a big step for us and now we must try to go back for the final after the semi-final because the cup is very important to us.
“I get excited a lot about going to Wembley because I remember the old and the new stadium. We are so happy to be there and we are there because of the way we played. I’m so pleased with our performance.”