Pep Guardiola says Manchester City were the only club to offer him the challenge of proving he can succeed in the Premier League.
Guardiola showed up for his first news conference as City boss and revealed the motivation for his move: the challenge of proving his own brand of possession-based football can work in England.
City’s new head coach said he owed a debt of gratitude to the men who made his dream a reality.
Asked if the style which brought multiple trophies at Barcelona and Bayern Munich could prosper amid the Premier League’s mayhem Guardiola said firmly: “That’s why I’m here – to prove I’m able to do that.
“It would have been comfortable to stay where we were. But I feel it’s the right time to come here and prove myself. I have to convince the players to play the way I – we – want. At the end we will see.”
Asked how many offers from England there had been he said: “Seriously, it was this one, so always I will be grateful to the people who trusted me to join the country and the Premier League.
“A coach, sooner or later, has to prove what it means to play in the Premier League. Manchester City gave me this chance and I will always be grateful. I will do my best until the last day to achieve what we want.”
“A coach, sooner or later, has to prove what it means to play in the Premier League.”
City have already brought in four players since Guardiola was announced as the incoming boss, and further additions could follow before a rude awakening to the Premier League against Sam Allardyce’s Sunderlnd.
“Against ‘Big Sam’ I will play my first game here,” he said. “But I’m pretty sure it will be completely different.
“That’s why I’m here, and of course I have to adapt my ideas to the quality of the players. And we’re [also] looking for players to adapt to what I want because it’s difficult for me to convince players of something I don’t believe.
“So in this mix we have to find each other – as soon as possible – but there are two or three things that are not going to change for the rest of my life as a coach.
“At the end what we want is so, so simple: when the opponent has the ball try to win it back; when we have it try to create as many chances as possible.”
Guardiola believes the renewal of his rivalry with Jose Mourinho in the north west of England can help him reach even greater levels as a manager.
The two had previously locked horns in fiery El Clasico encounters in Spain, when Guardiola was in charge of Barcelona and Mourinho held the reins at Real Madrid, and the former thinks trying to outmanoeuvre the best coaches in the world has brought the best out of him.
“I think Jose said it pretty well that it is not about him or me,” Guardiola said.
“What I saw from the distance is it is so tough to win the games here. We played many times against each other. I can say, they help me, the big coaches, and Jose is one of them, they help me to reach another level.
“My experience against him, against (Liverpool boss) Jurgen Klopp at Dortmund, a lot of coaches in Germany and Spain they made me better. All the managers in the world want to win and we are going to try and win as well.”
Guardiola, 45, has cast his eye over the City squad after they returned to training this week, though England pair Raheem Sterling and Joe Hart were not present despite their early Euro 2016 exit.
The former has copped plenty of flak following events in France, yet his new boss is relishing working with a player that cost City almost £50million last summer.
“I hear the last 10 days what happened, especially with Sterling,” Guardiola added.
“Of course he has a little problem that the money they paid is always in the mind of the people but I am curious, I am looking forward to working with him to try to help him, to show him how good a player he is and not just him, Joe Hart and the other English players.
“In Barcelona the basis was Catalan, Spanish players, in Bayern Munich the basis was (German players) and I would like to work with English players here but they are so expensive, more than the other players around the world.”
There have been critics of Sterling’s club colleague Yaya Toure, too, though Guardiola insisted he did “very, very well at Barcelona”, where the two were together before the manager sold him to his current employers during his time in charge.
As for skipper Vincent Kompany, whose plethora of injury problems over the past two years have robbed City of their captain for extended periods of time, Guardiola is keen to ensure he stays off the treatment table.
“My dream for Vincent Kompany is to be fit,” he noted.
“Especially in the last two years, he’s played not too many games.
“The captain has a lot of experience, he’s a magnificent central defender but he has to be fit. We spoke to him and said, ‘Just focus on your body, forget about the other kind of things’, to come back to what you were in the past. After that, Vincent will show his qualities.”
As he had done during a fans’ event at City’s academy on Sunday, Guardiola reiterated his intention to prove his managerial credentials in England as he bids to emulate the success he achieved in Catalan and then Bavaria with an aesthetically-pleasing style of football.
“I was in Barcelona where I had absolutely everything, the best player ever, one team where most of the players grew up from the academy so I knew them,” he said. “Bayern Munich were a club who had a lot of experience for many, many things.
“Here, it’s another test for my career. It would have been comfortable to stay where we were. I feel this is the right moment to come here and prove myself, if I’m able to convince my players to play the way we want.”