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Pep Guardiola sympathises with Thomas Tuchel and Chelsea’s players

The London club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government on Thursday.

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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, left, and Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel (Ben Stansall/PA)

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, left, and Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel (Ben Stansall/PA)

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, left, and Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel (Ben Stansall/PA)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has expressed sympathy with his Chelsea counterpart Thomas Tuchel after the London club’s Russian owner Roman Abramovich was sanctioned by the UK Government.

The action, part of the government’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, means that the oligarch’s assets, including Chelsea, have been frozen.

The club can continue to operate under a special licence but restrictions imposed include a ban on selling tickets, while the government remains “open” to the sale of the Blues.

The threat of sanctions had been widely speculated about over the past fortnight and, as he holds press conferences before games, Tuchel had often found himself as a de facto spokesperson for the club on the matter.

Guardiola feels that is an awkward situation for a football manager to have to deal with.

“It’s a difficult position for the manager, for Thomas Tuchel, and the players,” said the Spaniard at one of his own press conferences.

“It’s uncomfortable and I feel sorry for them because they are there to do the jobs as well as possible.

“When there was Covid we were asked to talk like doctors on the medicine, the vaccines. It looks like when we speak here we have to know absolutely everything.

“We are the face of the club, we are right here every three days, so you ask whatever you want (but) you have to understand that there are subjects we don’t know, and we don’t have a one-hour lesson to speak or talk about what you are asking for.

“It’s uncomfortable and I feel sorry for them because they are there to do the jobs as well as possible.“It’s uncomfortable and I feel sorry for them because they are there to do the jobs as well as possible.

It’s uncomfortable and I feel sorry for them because they are there to do the jobs as well as possible.Pep Guardiola

“I can talk about my club, always I feel comfortable talking about my club, but it’s difficult talking about other situations, like last week with Man United. I don’t know, I’m not there.

“Now the situation with Chelsea is the same but I’m empathetic enough to put myself in the position of the manager of Chelsea and the players. It must be an uncomfortable situation.”

The sanctions cast uncertainty over the immediate future of Chelsea but Guardiola was unwilling to be drawn on what the full implications could be.

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He said: “I don’t have enough opinions, sorry. I saw the headlines but I don’t know exactly the reason why what happened.

“Let me (have) a few more days to know exactly the reason why what’s happened and what is going to happen.

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Pep Guardiola watched on as Manchester City progressed in the Champions League on Wednesday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Pep Guardiola watched on as Manchester City progressed in the Champions League on Wednesday (Mike Egerton/PA)

Pep Guardiola watched on as Manchester City progressed in the Champions League on Wednesday (Mike Egerton/PA)

“The reason why (there is) this ban? I don’t know the reason why. For something wrong with the club? For the war in Ukraine? Europe? Russia? I don’t know.

“That’s why I want to wait. Maybe next press conference I will have a more clear opinion.”

Guardiola was speaking the day after his side completed the formality of their Champions League last-16 tie against Sporting Lisbon.

After winning the first leg in Portugal 5-0 last month, City duly strolled in the quarter-finals with a goalless draw at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

The club are now not in action until resuming their Premier League title quest at Crystal Palace on Monday.

Guardiola was short of senior defenders in midweek but is hopeful of having Joao Cancelo and Nathan Ake back from illness and injury respectively at Selhurst Park.

He said: “We are having problems a little bit as we don’t have many players available but we hope some will come back at the end of the week.

“Today we have regeneration and training for the guys who didn’t play yesterday. We celebrate qualification for the quarter-finals. We rest and prepare for an important game in London.”

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