‘I wasn’t good enough to play for Wigan,’ says Man City boss Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola said he almost joined Wigan before moving to Qatar. (Reuters)
Updated 20 February 2018
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‘I wasn’t good enough to play for Wigan,’ says Man City boss Pep Guardiola

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola will finally step out at Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium in Manchester City’s fifth-round FA Cup tie with the third-tier side on Monday — 13 years after he almost joined the Lancashire club as a player.
The Spanish midfielder was looking to extend his playing career, as a 34-year-old, in 2005 and contacted a number of Premier League clubs — including Wigan, then managed by Paul Jewell.
Barcelona legend Guardiola also held talks with City’s manager at the time, Stuart Pearce, but eventually accepted a more lucrative offer in Qatar before eventually moving to a Mexican club.
Now, as manager of a City team that is still aiming for silverware in four major competitions this season, Guardiola will experience a little of what he turned down in Wigan.
“Yeah, it was years ago,” said Guardiola. “But I was not good enough! That is the truth, yeah.
“I was old, really old, as a football player to come here. I tried to come here to play in English football but I was not able. The same happened when I came here to Manchester City, with Stuart Pearce. They were so clever!,” he added.
“They were so clever because I was not good enough! Wigan were interested in me, I didn’t choose the club. It didn’t happen and that’s all.”
Jewell recalled the episode differently, claiming in a recent interview he had made Guardiola an offer and expected him to sign, only to receive a phone call from the player’s agent to say he had received a “mind-blowing” proposal from Qatar.
Wigan, of course, have fallen on hard times since that era and the heights of the 2013 FA Cup Final when they famously defeated City, then managed by Roberto Mancini.
Relegated that same season, Wigan now find themselves in League One although they have already claimed the scalps of Premier League sides Bournemouth and West Ham in their FA Cup run this season.
Despite the threat posed by Wigan, however, Guardiola is adamant that back-up goalkeeper Claudio Bravo will remain his first choice for domestic cup competitions.
And that guarantee seems to assure the Chilean of starting for City in this coming Sunday’s League Cup Final meeting with Arsenal — Premier League leaders City’s first opportunity to secure one of the four trophies they are currently chasing.
“He’s going to play, Claudio,” said Guardiola. “We are in the Carabao (League) Cup Final thanks to him. So I cannot forget what happened, he saved two rounds of penalties, and the way he played — the safest, in the Carabao Cup.
“That is the decision this season. The other (competitions), we will see. The goalkeeper’s a different position to the other 10 team mates but, you know, it all depends on the performance and the quality but in this competition Claudio is going to play.”
The 34-year-old Chilean lost his first team place last summer when Guardiola signed young Brazilian Ederson, who has been in inspired form this season.
Bravo has not started a single Premier League game in the current campaign although his manager insists his selection as ‘cup keeper’ is not simply in order to keep him satisfied.
“I don’t do that to keep him happy,” said Guardiola. “It’s because in the top clubs we need two good goalkeepers so you cannot survive with just one goalkeeper — if he is injured, suspended, something like that and the other one doesn’t have the level.
“So all the big clubs who play a lot of competitions have two good goalkeepers and we have.
“His reaction has been perfect. I know for the players, not just Claudio, when they don’t play regularly it’s not an easy situation.”


‘It’s epic’: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venue

Al-Nassr’s Nigerian superstar Ahmed Musa (back right) joins (front left to right) Al-Hilal’s Ali Al-Habsi and Mohammad Jahfali and (back left) Saleh Alweheemed ahead of this weekend’s 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E-Prix. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 10 December 2018
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‘It’s epic’: Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal stars tour incredible Ad Diriyah E Prix venue

  • 22 Formula E drivers will battle it out for glory this weekend
  • "I’m very happy to see how Saudi Arabia is becoming a rising name for big sports"

JEDDAH: They may be fierce rivals in the Saudi Pro League, but some of the biggest stars of Al-Hilal and Al-Nassr football got together to tour the venue of one of the most anticipated motor racing events in Saudi history.
The players soaked up the atmosphere as they visited the home of the 2018 ‘Saudia’ Ad Diriyah E Prix.
This weekend the 2.495km track created within the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah will see 22 Formula E drivers battle it out for glory.
Goalkeeper Ali Al-Habsi said: “I’m totally amazed by what they have built here, the track, the grandstands, the hospitality, it’s incredible what they’ve created for the Formula E.  It’s epic.
“As a professional athlete I’m very happy to see how Saudi Arabia is becoming a rising name for big sports, this will be a fiercely fought contest which is sure to thrill the fans.”

 (Left to right) Al Hilal star players Alberto Botia, Abdullah Almaiouf, Mohammad Jahfali, Ali Al-Habsi and Carlos Eduardo visit the new Formula E track at the stunning UNESCO World Heritage site of Ad Diriyah. (Photo/Supplied)

The racing extravaganza will also be accompanied by fan zones, entertainment and cultural attractions.
Three nights of music concerts will feature some of the biggest names in world. 
US smash hit OneRepublic and superstar DJ/producer David Guetta will wrap up the event after the race ends on Saturday with Enrique Iglesias, Jason Derulo and Amr Diab performing from Thursday.
Al Nassr’s Nigerian superstar Ahmed Mussa said: “We’re all about entertaining fans and bringing people together, that’s what football and sport is all about. These three nights will be a spectacle like nothing we’ve seen before and I urge our fans to come and be part of history.”