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The manager believes that this is a “fascinating challenge” that gives meaning to his profession
Guardiola said that he has blind faith in his players and that they “astound” him each time they don’t win a match
With the quality football that’s been produced under his tutelage, with the titles the team has won under his management and with a firm belief in the squad he has at his disposal, Josep Guardiola called upon Barça fans and members to believe in this team ahead of the Cup semifinal away leg against Valencia. The manager has faith that his team will get back on track, despite the long list of injuries and being seven points down to Madrid in the League: “I believes that we can do it once again. We’re almost at the point of no return, but we have 18 games left not 5. A lot of people believe the League is already lost, but they will not convince me.”
“It’s a fascinating challenge”
Guardiola believes this is a unique opportunity to build upon what his players have already accomplished: “what we must try to do is extend what these players have already done. It’s a challenge that I impose on myself. It’s a fascinating challenge. It’s gives meaning to my profession.” Even though the team has not won in its last two matches, the manger believes that no title is beyond reach. “Let me believe that we can win again, and if we cannot, we’ll congratulate our opponents,” said the manager. He graded his team’s performance in the League so far with an "8.5 or 9" out of 10 “but the the other team is performing at a 9.5 or 10.”
The difficulty to do things well year after year
The team has received some criticism in the last couple of days because of the goalless draw with Villarreal. However, the support and faith shown in the team by the public to mount a title-winning fight back has been almost overwhelming: “it’s normal for people to have faith in us now. We’ve done well for a long, long, long time, and you don’t know how hard that is ... the players must put in the effort to continue. They will regret it if they don’t. It happened to me. We cannot give up yet,” said the manager.
Praise for the squad that wants more
Guardiola’s press conference was captivating. The coach said that his team’s morale hasn’t hit “rock bottom,” quite the contrary: “in Villarreal they ran more than ever. We didn’t go to sunbathe. It’s astounding to me that they get so sad when they don’t win. I have absolutely no doubts about their mentality ... if the ball just barely doesn’t go in, we just need to put in a little more work.” The manager reiterated his point by using the Australian Open championship match between Djokovic and Nadal as an example - the Spanish tennis player’s shot, which would have given him a very clear advantage, missed its mark by mere centimeters. Just a little more is needed and the victories will return.
Valencia is a “good test”
The manager heaped praise on Barça’s Cup rival: “Valencia has always been a strong side these last four years. They are a great team, strong in every position. It has always been a good test to compete against them. They are aggressive and fast, they impress me.” The Valencia-Barça League match at Mestalla ended in a draw (2-2).
Signings and referees
Guardiola also said there was little to no chance of picking up a new player during the winter transfer window: “we’ve thought about it, but I highly value the reserve players and I want to use them. I have no doubts about the footballers from the B team. If we have injuries, we’ll give the youngsters a chance. Cuenca, Sergi Roberto, Dos Santos, Bartra, Montoya ... whenever they play they do a good job.”
On the referee debate started by some Spanish newspapers, he said: “I continue believing that Barça does not complain about the referees. It’s entirely different to opine if a certain play was or wasn’t a penalty, but we know that they [referees] have the right to make mistakes. Ever since I started managing, I try to think that the refs do not exist. President Rosell has been exemplary since he started, just like President Laporta. We have never turned the referees into an excuse [for adverse results]. My conscience is clear, because I respect the referee system, because it doesn’t help me if I do complain, and because not only do I represent myself, but an institution as well.”