Pep Guardiola is treating Manchester City’s clash with Manchester United in the fourth round of the EFL Cup like “a final”.
The City manager intends to rotate his squad at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, citing tiredness among some players after a run of five games without a win which equals Guardiola’s worst run as a coach.
But despite the likely changes in personnel, Guardiola insists he is not taking the derby lightly and admits City take on their rivals desperate for a victory.
He said: “I think everyone can believe this competition is not the big one but I am going to prepare to win the game.
“For the players who play, we’ll be depending on them to make the best performance possible. It is a final.
“I don’t understand my job if I play a game thinking another game is more important – this is the most important.
“But at the same time I have to consider how the condition of the players is. Three days after it is West Brom, then Barcelona, and they are so important as well.”
Because of the need for victory, Guardiola is set to field a side mainly of senior players. Promising youngsters Tosin Adarabioyo, Angelino, Pablo Maffeo and Aleix Garcia are in contention but Guardiola seems unlikely to field too many of them.
Guardiola, whose team beat United 2-1 in the Premier League earlier this season, said: “Normally young players have to be involved when the team is in a good moment and we cannot forget the last five games we didn’t win.
“To put three, four or five young players in at the same time is not good in that moment because you have to protect them.”