Millennium Post

Pep grateful for patience shown by City owners

Manchester: Pep Guardiola manager thanked Manchester City's Abu Dhabi owners for standing by him when he failed to deliver any trophies in his first season at the club.
Guardiola, whose side lead the Premier League by 13 points and won the League Cup last month, is set to meet chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak when City fly to Abu Dhabi for a training break following Monday's Premier League match at Stoke.
The Catalan coach is not expected to discuss the possibility of a new contract during the break, and has given no public indication as to whether he intends to stay beyond the end of his current deal when it expires in June 2019.
He has, though, made clear that he appreciates the support given to him, director of football Txiki Begiristain and chief executive Ferran Soriano.
"The relationship is good, especially with Khaldoon. We are in touch a lot by telephone," said Guardiola.
"He wants to know what happens but always accepts whatever I, Txiki and Ferran decide.
"The club are good because now it is easy to support us when it is going well but it happened the same last season. That means a lot to me.
"In the bad moments, I saw how the club reacted and supported me and when I wanted to talk about plans for the future, they were there.
"There were no doubts about that. We had doubts because we didn't win but not doubts about what we had to do. That was so important last season. I will not forget that."
Guardiola has made sure to give his own support to midfielder David Silva, who has been allowed to miss a number of matches over the past three months for compassionate reasons.
Silva has made several visits to Spain to be with his son Mateo, who was left fighting for his life in a Valencia hospital after being born prematurely in December.
Both Mateo and Silva's partner Yessica Suarez Gonzalez have remained in Spain following the birth, and Guardiola has told the midfielder to be with them as much as he needs to be.
Silva missed last Wednesday's Champions League match against Basel in order to visit his partner and child, but is set to return for the match at Stoke.
"He wants to be here but sometimes he needs to come back and see his son and wife, who are doing well," Guardiola added.
"He will be ready to play against Stoke City and after that when we will go to Abu Dhabi, he will stay in Spain.
"What has happened has happened. His family and son are the most important thing. Hopefully he can sort it as soon as possible, his lovely kid can grow and grow and he can stay with us all day."
Guardiola also hailed Silva, now in his eighth season City, for his ability to adapt to the Premier League's physicality.
"He's got a lot of technical skills in a complicated league with the physicality, the weather conditions, the pitches, and he has survived to be one of the best players in England for a decade.
"He is a huge competitor. He is shy, and he doesn't speak too much. But on the pitch, when the moment is there and the game is on."
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