mind games | 

Pep Guardiola is plotting ‘ridiculous’ plan to deal with United in Manchester derby duel

Pep Guardiola claims he has one or two tricks up his sleeve for this weekend's Manchester derby. Photo: Reuters© REUTERS

James DuckerTelegraph.co.uk

Pep Guardiola says he has some “ridiculous” plans in store for Saturday’s derby against Manchester United. The Manchester City manager has warned his players not to look beyond tonight’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at Southampton as he targets a fifth League Cup triumph in six seasons.

But Guardiola admits he already has some interesting ideas up his sleeve for the weekend’s trip to Old Trafford and that the match will have a bearing on his team selection against Southampton, given that it is due to be City’s fourth game in 10 days following their ­Premier League and FA Cup wins over Chelsea last week.

“I would like to arrive against United with the average of minutes in the legs of the players quite ­similar, because I have a few ideas, thoughts – ridiculous ones – against United, but still I didn’t watch the last games,” he said.

“I have to see the way they [United] play at home and if they changed something. I have to still review it. That is why I don’t have a clear line-up against United. These ones [against Southampton and United], it also depends on those who didn’t play against Chelsea.

“I would say the game against Chelsea [in the FA Cup on Sunday], I made a lot of changes for one ­reason – how tired I saw some players after the game, after the trip [to Chelsea in the league three days before]. We arrived too late and in training the day after I saw the players tired.”

​Meanwhile, Guardiola has ­challenged Kalvin Phillips to dislodge Rodri as his first-choice ­holding midfielder, but says the England player must improve the way he receives the ball from the centre-backs. Phillips was initially prevented from training and ­playing after reporting back from the World Cup “overweight” but is expected to start against Southampton.

“He has to fight with Rodri for the benefit of all of us,” Guardiola said. “Rodri cannot sleep and must have the feeling there is someone close to him to do it. He has to.”

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