Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has made their intentions clear as they prepare for a Carabao Cup semi-final with rivals Manchester United.
City are bidding to win the trophy for a fourth successive season, and a sixth time in eight years. Having beaten their arch-rivals in a two-legged semi-final last season, Guardiola goes into the tie confident.
“My team won three times in a row. A semi-final for a fourth time in a row means a lot. If it would not be important we would have dropped it before,” he said.
“We cannot expect it to be more difficult than it should be with the rival we are going to face.
“United was above Manchester City and for us it is an incredible honour to be, over the last decade, there with them: sometimes win, most of the times, and lose some times.”
Kevin De Bruyne will be a key figure in the Carabao Cup semi-final at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
There is a new contract on the table for the Belgium midfielder, who is currently tied to City until 2023, but he is yet to sign it.
However, Guardiola is not too concerned.
“I am pretty sure he will stay but at the same time we have to respect the process,” he told Sky Sports News.
“I don’t know what is going on as I didn’t speak with Txiki (Begiristain, City’s director of football).
“But he knows how we appreciate him, not just as a football player but as a person.
“He is very important for the club. I am not worried. But at the end of course it is his decision.”
Guardiola reacts to Covid-19 situation
Guardiola admits he now believes players are “special” as the latest lockdown has left football “an island inside society”.
The Premier League and EFL are allowed to play on despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson introducing more stringent restrictions for the general public on Monday night.
City have had issues with Covid-19 recently. They had six players unavailable for Sunday’s win at Chelsea and had a match at Everton postponed just after Christmas.
But Guardiola accepts they have to manage the situation.
“It looks like we are an island inside society, everything is locked down except ourselves,” he said.
“When people say football players are special, maybe it is the truth. I couldn’t believe it before – I thought the doctors, teachers, architects, every person was the same – but it looks as if everything is closed except our business.
“All the managers must adapt to the situation, this is the reality, we are not an exception.
“There are other clubs: we knew Newcastle had many (cases). Don’t change the schedule, don’t change the calendar, don’t change the rules, we have to adapt.”