‘When the time is right’

MANCHESTER CITY chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak will sit down to discuss a new deal with Pep Guardiola when the time is right.

And the only pressure on the 51-year-old to win the Champions League will be the huge amount he puts on himself.

Man City are in no rush to discuss a new deal with Pep Guardiola

Man City are in no rush to discuss a new deal with Pep GuardiolaCredit: PA

The Spaniard is going into the final 12 months of his contract at the Etihad — and will not be rushed into signing a new one.

He wants to be sure his Man City players are still responding to his methods before he commits himself to stay beyond next summer.

Guardiola has just won a fourth Prem title in five years to go with the five domestic cups he has also picked up in his superb six-year stay.  A European trophy is all that is missing from his haul.

 Asked about the manager’s contract, Khaldoon said: “Pep has never stayed as long as he’s stayed (here) with any club, be it Barcelona or Bayern Munich.  

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“So, the question is perfectly  valid. It was perfectly valid last year and three years ago. And, of course, this year.

“It’s a partnership that has done wonders in years. It’s approaching its seventh year and next year is going to be an exciting chapter of his partnership  — we are enjoying every moment.

“We’re achieving great things together and this conversation will be had at the right time, at the right pace. And with the pace, time and framework that works for Pep.”

Guardiola went into the final year of his contract in 2020-21 before signing an extension in the autumn of that year.

The club and manager are relaxed about the situation but will not want it to overshadow what promises to be another exciting year.

Strike duo Erling Haaland, 21, and 22-year-old Julian Alvarez have already agreed to join a squad which has won the last two titles without a natural  centre-forward.

They have also come agonisingly close to ending their wait for a Champions League trophy in the last two years — but both times came up agonisingly short.

There are often suggestions that Guardiola has to win it if he is to be judged as a success in England but — publicly at least — the City owners say otherwise.

Khaldoon added: “You don’t need to put any extra pressure on Pep as he puts enough pressure on himself for everyone. 

“It is the exact opposite I try to bring back the pressure because I think he puts too much pressure on himself. 

“The pressure of not winning this competition or that competition, we are all in it together.

“Sheikh Mansour looks at the game, understands the game and understands winning and losing very, very well.

“That’s why his ethos, his philosophy is what I’ve tried to instil on this organisation and what we have had these last years.

“We approach every season to win and to try to win every competition we compete in. That is the mindset and that has been the case over the last ten years.

“It’s the same with every competition from the Champions League, the Premier League the FA Cup. We show up every game with full intention to give it everything we have to win every game. And with that you can see the results.”

FUTURE PLANS

City splashed the cash on £100million attacker Jack Grealish last summer and Khaldoon believes the England star will only get better at the Etihad.

He said: “Jack’s one of the most promising and  exciting players in the world. He’s an incredible talent, Pep and the coaching staff are delighted with his work ethic and his numbers are good.

“He’s on the right track and  we know he is going to deliver. We have high expectations so let’s  watch his evolution. Next season Jack will continue to improve and  be a very important player.”

Khaldoon hopes the squad will learn from another near miss in Europe for next season.

They came within a whisker of knocking out eventual winners Real Madrid in the semi-finals before an astonishing stoppage time comeback from Carlo Ancelotti’s men.

The City chairman revealed that Madrid president Florentino Perez had even thrown in the towel after City took the lead.

He said: “Both Real Madrid games were standouts — even the away game. Those last few minutes and extra time were difficult but we showed a lot of personality.

“It was very hard for me being there with Perez right next to me. I think he actually congratulated me in the 82nd minute because we had this. But that’s football sometimes.”

City are clearly not ready to say goodbye to Guardiola yet — but they have bid a fond farewell to another of their legends.

Skipper Fernandinho, 37, has brought the curtain down on a glittering nine-year stay.

Khaldoon added: “Five titles, six League Cups and an FA Cup — this is a remarkable tally by any standards.

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“When Vincent Kompany left there were big shoes to fill and Fernandinho stepped up.

“He will be missed by everyone in this organisation because he was a silent leader who always spoke with his actions.”

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