MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola laughed off suggestions that he may be tempted to match Roy Hodgson’s remarkable longevity in the game as he prepares to pit his wits against the 71-year-old Crystal Palace manager today.
The Manchester City boss has made no secret of his wish to pursue interests outside football, although he has refused to put a “finishing” date on his coaching career.
Guardiola’s current City contract is due to expire in 2021, which would take him to five years with the Premier League side, the longest single spell of service in his three-club managerial career.
But the 48-year-old Catalan is adamant that he has no desire to match the incredible record of former England manager Hodgson, who is four months short of his 72nd birthday and is the oldest manager in Premier League history.
“In my case, no way. Impossible, because I am curious to do other things before I die!” laughed Guardiola.
“My wife, family … 71? No way. You have to have a special energy and I think at 71 – except Roy Hodgson – the other ones cannot do it.
“The fact Roy Hodgson (does it), it’s because he loves it, so it’s incredible. I think what has happened is, he has the passion, in himself in doing that. It’s incredible so it’s nice. It will be nice to see him again.”
Guardiola is in the midst of what could yet prove to be one of the most historic seasons in English football history.
City travel to Palace two points behind Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, but still with the title in their hands thanks to a game in hand.
Guardiola’s men have also progressed to the FA Cup final and retained the League Cup in February, while they host Tottenham in the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday, hoping to overturn a 1-0 first leg deficit.
However, the City manager’s relentless and intense style of management has led many observers to speculate about how long he can remain at the top level of the game.
“That’s not for a long time for me – I’m 48 and that is many years away,” added Guardiola when asked if he had set a retirement date.
“I don’t have plans because I am just living preparing for the next game, the next season so we will see. I can leave, I would do other things, I’m curious to do things. I don’t want to spend all the time on the bench.
“Ten seasons is so stressful and demanding. Yes it has been incredible and there will be a few more years – but not until I am 71.”
Guardiola’s team selection and tactics were questioned for his side’s Champions League defeat to Tottenham on Tuesday.
However, the Catalan shielded his players from any criticism and lauded their achievements over the past two seasons.
“Even in bad moments when it’s not going well, I need them to realise how good we have been and what we have done,” added Guardiola.
“I need them, to think ‘come on how can you turn it around?’
“But when you make 180 points in two seasons, it’s exceptional. We have lost two out of the last 24 – that’s exceptional – so let’s see what happens.”