Guardiola endorses Mourinho's EFL Cup scepticism

The value of the EFL Cup has been questioned by two of football's biggest names after Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola backed his rival.

"It's good for people [players] who don't get used a lot, but it's a title when, if you win, it's ok, but you don't get a lot of credit for it."   -  Getty Images

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola agrees with an unfavourable assessment of the EFL Cup offered by Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho.

United beat Southampton in the final last season but, speaking after his team began its defence of the trophy with a 4-1 win over Burton Albion, Mourinho suggested English clubs could fare better in Europe without having to contest the lesser of the two domestic cup competitions. 

City won 2-1 at West Brom in the third round on Wednesday, suffering an injury scare when Ilkay Gundogan, back in the starting line-up for the first time since December after a long-term right knee injury, hobbled off following a heavy challenge from Claudio Yacob.

Addressing the media in a news conference to preview City's Premier League clash with Crystal Palace, Guardiola was asked for his opinion on the merit of the EFL Cup in light of Mourinho's views. 

"Quite similar," he said. "Business is business. We have a lot of games. [If] you have to play the competition, you have to play the competition. 

"It's good for people [players] who don't get used a lot, but it's a title when, if you win, it's ok, but you don't get a lot of credit for it."

City was relieved to learn Gundogan did not suffer a serious injury to his left knee, and the Germany international could indeed be back in action very soon. 

"We will see if he is able to train," Guardiola said. "We were lucky."

In further good fitness news, club captain Vincent Kompany is back in full training and could even feature against Palace.

City is joint top of the Premier League, level with United on 13 points after five matches, but Guardiola rejected suggestions the battle for the title is already shaping up as a two-horse race between the Manchester clubs. 

"There are six [teams in contention], we are just a few points ahead," he said.

"When we finish our weekend, we analyse what is going to happen in the future but nobody knows."

City will be the heavy favourite to come out on top when it hosts winless bottom side Palace, although Guardiola made a point of reminding the media about the perceived competitive balance in England's top flight compared to the Bundesliga and LaLiga, where he coached Bayern Munich and Barcelona to dominant league title successes. 

"This is the Premier league," he said.

"I hear from the beginning every single team can beat the other one. That is what I have heard since I arrived. I have a lot of respect for what I saw [from Palace] against Southampton and Burnley. 

"They created a lot of chances. I showed to my players all the chances they created in just two games."

In the opposition dugout on Saturday will be veteran manager Roy Hodgson, who has been appointed by Palace to succeed the sacked Frank de Boer. 

Asked if, like Hodgson, he will still be coaching at the age of 70, Guardiola said: "Definitely not. I promise you. I love golf! 

"But I admire [Hodgson], a long career always deserves respect."

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