Pep Guardiola can understand United's motivation to end City's treble hopes
Pep Guardiola believes stopping Manchester City winning the treble could give Manchester United extra motivation in the FA Cup final.
The two neighbouring rivals clash in the Wembley showpiece for the first time on Saturday with more than a trophy and local bragging rights at stake.
For Premier League winners City victory could be the second leg of a potentially glorious treble with the final of the Champions League to come next week.
United on the other hand – as the only side to have won all three of those competitions in the same season, back in 1999 – will be anxious to stop them and protect their place in history.
City manager Guardiola said: “I could understand that. It belongs to them, that’s normal. Sport is like that.
“’That belongs to us – we don’t want anyone else to do it,’ it’s normal, that feeling. It’s completely understandable. But it’s a football game, who will be better will win.”
United boss Erik ten Hag, however, has played down the party-pooping aspect of his side’s task.
The Dutchman has enjoyed an encouraging first season at Old Trafford having won the Carabao Cup and reclaimed a Champions League spot.
“I know what is the thinking from the fans,” Ten Hag said.
“But what we want is to restore Manchester United by winning trophies. We have an opportunity to win a trophy and we don’t want to be distracted by anything.
“If it’s important for the fans then it’s important for us, so we will give everything to win the cup.”
Guardiola insists the treble is not part of his thinking yet. He has spent the week preparing to face United and will switch focus to playing Inter Milan in Istanbul next week.
“We didn’t speak once about Inter these days,” he said. “We’ll have Sunday off, and after we’ll have three or four days training.
“We’ll introduce what we believe Inter are, to try to beat them, then. We have time. Saturday to Saturday is a long time to prepare for a game.
“United and the FA Cup deserve the full attention and commitment. The players are completely aware of that.”
City could have a fully-fit squad with Kevin De Bruyne, Jack Grealish, Ruben Dias and Manuel Akanji, who all missed last week’s game at Brentford, having since returned to training.
Guardiola has confirmed second-choice goalkeeper Stefan Ortega will start, as he has in all domestic cup fixtures this season.
United are without striker Anthony Martial due to a hamstring injury and winger Antony is also a major doubt.