'Hopefully they can stay up' - Man City boss Pep Guardiola on 'special' Leeds United crowd

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola says he finally understands why Leeds United's Elland Road stadium is so special.

By Graham Smyth
Saturday, 30th April 2022, 8:57 pm
Updated Saturday, 30th April 2022, 8:59 pm

Speaking after his side's 4-0 win over the relegation battling Whites, Guardiola addressed the atmosphere inside Elland Road, which was feverish even with the scoreline so lopsided late in the game. Leeds supporters continued to sing for their team long after the final whistle, prompting Guardiola's opposite number Jesse Marsch to declare the fanbase 'unique.'

Guardiola declined to compare the LS11 experience to that found at Atletico Madrid but admitted it had lived up to its reputation.

"I'm not going to compare otherwise I will be in trouble," he quipped.

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"Since I arrive I hear many times, many times about what Elland Road means. The previous time we came here Marcelo Bielsa was manager it was behind closed doors so I couldn't feel it. Today I felt it so I know why this is so special. At the end, 4-0 down fighting to stay in the Premier League and singing, chanting, showing support. Leeds is one of the greatest teams in this country and I have a special sympathy for the fact Marcelo was here and hopefully they can stay, but that is why we spoke it will be tough today."

Guardiola's side didn't have it all their own way against Leeds, but a pair of set-piece goals, one in each half, sent them on their way to victory before they added to the scoreline late on with the game stretched and the hosts throwing caution to the wind.

The Spaniard admitted that Marsch caught him by surprise with a switch to a back five but given Manchester City's hectic schedule he was pleased with the performance and delighted with the result.

"Between the Champions League game it is always difficult, especially away, especially at Elland Road, especially in [Leeds'] final to stay in the Premier League. We started really well, we didn't expect them to play five at the back, it was the first time they play in that system this season. They surprised us a little bit but after the goal we suffered a lot in the first 25 minutes of the first half because we conceded transitions and they are so dangerous. After the second goal from Nathan [Ake] we controlled the game more and we could have scored more goals and they could have scored some at the end. We created a lot of chances. Knowing the circumstances that we have with the Champions League, it was a really good result.

SPECIAL ATMOSPHERE - Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola, whose men won 4-0 at Elland Road, hopes Leeds United stay in the Premier League. Pic: Getty

"I think the result looks more comfortable than it really was but I could not expect differently."

It was a highly physical game, in the first half especially, and the visitors appeared unhappy with the treatment dished out to Jack Grealish in particular, although referee Paul Tierney was often content that Leeds' challenges were within the law.

"He's strong but the yellow card was for him," said Guardiola, indicating frustration.

"I think in the second half he felt more comfortable and he played really really well."