Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola has said it would be impossible to make sweeping changes to his Manchester City squad in the wake of their shock Champions League exit.
City were dismissed from the tournament in the first knockout round by Monaco on Wednesday, losing the second leg 3-1 after winning their home tie 5-3.
It was the first time in Guardiola’s illustrious managerial career that his team had failed to reach at least the semi-finals of Europe’s elite competition, which he won with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.
With the Premier League title realistically out of reach, City can now only win the FA Cup in Guardiola’s debut season and they meet Arsenal in the semi-final at Wembley on April 23.
City’s status as one of the world’s wealthiest clubs has led to speculation Guardiola will implement an extensive overhaul of his squad in the close-season, but the manager insists such a strategy would not be feasible.
“A lot of people say about our performance in Monaco that we will have to change 12 or 13 players. But it is impossible today to do that. You have to be a little bit more realistic,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“They might have a contract and you have to pay their salaries. And to spend £40-£50 million on every player means you would have to spend £500m-£600m.
“It’s impossible. We will try and improve the team but it’s impossible (to do that much) with the way the transfer market is.
“I am so happy with the squad. I have said many times I’m so happy working with the guys and how they try to do and their performances.
“We’re going to improve a lot next season. A lot of these guys will be here next season.”
Yay Toure, Pablo Zabaleta, Jesus Navas, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna and Willy Caballero are all due to be out of contract at the end of the season.
– Big challenge –
Guardiola is also unlikely to recall City’s loan players to the club, with Joe Hart, the England goalkeeper currently at Torino, and Samir Nasri, the France midfielder at Sevilla, the most high-profile absentees.
“All the managers and sporting directors want to improve and get better. Maybe the team that wins the triple will still make changes,” Guardiola said.
“I met the big boss, Sheikh Mansour, in Abu Dhabi and I know the plan, it’s a team that took the next step seven years ago and we are looking to get better.
“I want to be involved in that as much as possible and to help my team to make the next step. I have more power than ever in my life as a manager. For me it’s a big challenge and I want to deal with that.”
Guardiola and his squad now return to Premier League action with an important clash against top four rivals Liverpool on Sunday at Eastlands.
It would a hammer blow to Guardiola if City were to miss out on qualifying for next season’s Champions League.
“Qualification for the Champions League will be tough until the last game of the Premier League,” Guardiola said.
“Except of course Chelsea, the other contenders will be there until the end of the season.
“It will be good to see how everybody reacts, myself and the players, after going out of the Champions League.
“It’s an important game before the international team break against one of the best teams in the Premier League.”
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