MANCHESTER: Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola denied on Thursday that he was already planning his retirement at age 45, after saying that he was “arriving at the end” of his career.
The Spaniard sparked feverish speculation about his future after saying in an interview with American television station NBC that he could not see himself still being in management when he reaches his sixties.
During the interview Guardiola said: “I feel the process of my goodbye has already started. I am arriving at the end of my coaching career, of this I am sure.”
He now admits it was “inappropriate” to talk about life after football and insists he remains committed to City, where he has a contract until 2019, having only joined the club in July.
“I said in the interview that I won’t be a trainer when I’m 60. But I’m 45. I’m not going to retire in two or three years,” he said.
“I love my job and I’m in the perfect place to do my job, especially here in England. I’m not going to train at 60 because I want to do something else in my life.
“I started playing football young and my career was on the pitch. I want to do something else in my life, but in the next three, four, five, six or seven years. I said that at 60 or 65, I’m not going to train.
“Maybe it was inappropriate to say I’m starting to say goodbye to my career. Maybe it was inappropriate but I’m not thinking that I’m going to retire.”
Guardiola has had a testing first season in England, with City sitting fourth in the Premier League, seven points behind leaders Chelsea.
He gave two awkward television interviews after Monday’s 2-1 victory over Burnley, leading to suggestions that he might be feeling the pressure.
But he is adamant that he is enjoying the challenge of guiding City as they seek success on three fronts -– including the FA Cup, in which they visit West Ham for a third-round tie on Friday.
– ‘Never said that’ –
Guardiola also moved to clarify comments he made that suggested neighbours Manchester United are a bigger club than City.
The City boss said this week that it might take the club 10 years to match United because they do not have the same history when it comes to winning trophies.
But Guardiola believes that City are making fast progress -– and that their future is bright.
“For Manchester City fans, Manchester City are the most important thing. Always that remains,” he said.
“When I said to compare the history and the titles, Liverpool, United, Barcelona and Real Madrid, and these kind of clubs, we are behind. If people don’t understand that, I’m sorry.
“In the last five or six years, I think Manchester City are the best club, the club who have achieved more targets of getting better and of growing the most, I think they are one of the best in the world by far.”
He added: “But in terms of the titles, just the titles, we are behind all those clubs in the last 20 years.
“Liverpool haven’t won the Premier League in 25 years, but in terms of titles, are better than Manchester City. But this club being a lesser club than those? I never said that.”