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Pep Guardiola: 'Manchester United will make step forward under Sir Jim Ratcliffe'

Guardiola: 'Man Utd will make step forward under Ratcliffe'
© Reuters
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes that rivals Manchester United will "make a step forward" under new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes that rivals Manchester United will "make a step forward" under new minority shareholder Sir Jim Ratcliffe.

Ratcliffe's 27.7% purchase of the Red Devils was officially confirmed by the club on Tuesday, a week after the deal was approved by the Premier League.

The Glazer family still hold a majority stake in the 20-time English champions, but British billionaire Ratcliffe – the CEO and chairman of INEOS – will have full control of the club's football operations.

Shortly after the announcement, Ratcliffe outlined his plans to gradually transform Man United both on and off the pitch, with one of his aims being to knock rivals Man City and Liverpool "off their perch" at the summit of English football.

Man City, in particular, have been a dominant force for several years having lifted the Premier League title in five of the last six seasons, and they are bidding to become the first-ever English club to win four consecutive titles this term.

The Citizens have also celebrated success in other domestic cups and in Europe, most notably winning a historic treble last season, including their first-ever triumph in the Champions League.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola during training on December 18, 2023© Reuters

Addressing Ratcliffe's ambitions of wanting to chase down Man City, Guardiola insisted that he is 'not worried' about the prospect of their rivals improving in the near future, but he does believe that Ratcliffe's arrival will have a positive impact on the Red Devils.

"It is not about [being] worried. I'm pretty sure with Sir Jim Ratcliffe and the other people, United are going to make a step forward," Guardiola said at a press conference on Friday.

"I have a feeling that they know exactly what they have to do, appoint the people they need to. His experience in the business world will make the project better.

"But that is normal, all the teams want it and we want to be there. As long as I am here, [Man City] will try to be there again."

Guardiola added: "It is the truth. Teams want to be closer to us, if they want to deny it for thing that is not the reality, that is their problem.

"When I've been below teams, I've always admired them and said 'what do you have to do to be close and challenge them?'. They are the really competitive people who you want to be.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola after winning the best men's coach of 2023 during the awards ceremony on January 15, 2024© Reuters

"When you want to judge just for things that will feel comfortable for one day, they will not arrive where we are right now.

"When we were below and United were winning, we were watching them, admiring and learning from them with the period with Sir Alex Ferguson and all the generations. I'm sure Man City were admiring and wanting to be there and now we are.

"That's why for these types of comments (from Ratcliffe), I had the feeling that they will be back."

Since Guardiola arrived at the Etihad Stadium in the summer of 2016, Man City have only been challenged by Man United for the Premier League title in two of the last eight seasons, once under Jose Mourinho in 2017-18 and then again under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2020-21 – on both occasions the Red Devils finished second.

Having said that, the Citizens cruised to Premier League glory in both those campaigns – finishing 19 points clear of Man United in 2017-18 and then 12 points clear in 2020-21 – and Guardiola is keen for his side to remain top dogs in the English game.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola celebrates after the match on October 29, 2023© Reuters

"What I want is Man City, my team, being there. I don't care (about our rivals)," the Catalan boss added. "We want to be there.

"With Ole and Jose Mourinho they were second, I would say not close like Liverpool have been but they were there. Always, since I arrived on day one, I always expect United to be there for their history and traditions.

"I don't know why it didn't happened. I guess they know [why]. It is their business not ours. What we want is to be there for ourselves."

Man City are being challenged for the Premier League title by both Liverpool and Arsenal this season, currently sitting four points behind the former at the summit and just one point clear of the latter in third spot.

As for Man United, they have recently strengthened their hopes of securing a top-four finish after winning each of their last four league games to climb up to sixth place, just three points behind Tottenham Hotspur in fifth and five points behind Aston Villa in fourth.

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