Pep Guardiola met the Manchester City fans for the first time and vowed to deliver a team to make them proud — but said Barcelona star Lionel Messi was not part of his plans.
Thousands of City fans packed the club’s Etihad Campus for a first chance to see their new manager as he begins his three-year reign at the club.
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola told them it was a “dream come true” to manage in the Premier League.
“I proved myself in Barcelona and, after I proved myself in Germany, I wanted to prove myself in England,” Guardiola, who won 21 trophies during his time at Barcelona and Bayern, said.
“The players are coming to try every game, every weekend, so that the Manchester City people can be proud, and we will see what is our level to achieve our battles.
“I want the people who enjoy football to be proud of what we did. After that, maybe we will win our titles. I cannot do that alone. I need the players, the staff; we need our fans — without that, it is impossible.”
He dismissed any suggestion that Messi could form part of his new squad when a fan shouted out to ask whether he planned to buy the Argentine.
“He is not a bad player, this guy!” Guardiola joked. “Definitely not, but I’m sorry — Messi has to stay in Barcelona for the rest of his career.”
Guardiola takes over a City side that struggled to secure a place in the Champions League last season, securing fourth place on goal difference from rivals Manchester United and finishing 15 points behind champions Leicester City.
He refused to set targets for his first season, insisting his priority now was to galvanise the first-team squad in preseason.
“First I have to meet the players and know them — not from TV — and speak with them, hug them and kick their arse,” he said.
“I need time, but as soon as possible we are going to try to create team spirit. That is the most important thing. After that you can create tactics, but we have to create something special with ourselves.
“The reason we are here is thinking: ‘What can we do to make this club a better club?’ I don’t want the guys to think about what the club can do for them. We are here to make Manchester City a better club in the next three, four, five years.”
Former Spain international Guardiola had come close to playing for City when he had a trial under then manager Stuart Pearce in 2005.
“One of my dreams would have been to play here as a football player. It was not possible and now my dream came true,” he added.
“Of course the atmosphere here is wow. There is a line, come here to learn, learn the way the people live here, for my family, for my kids. That is why I was curious to move in Europe.”
He also played down any potential rivalries with the managers of other clubs, including United’s new manager Jose Mourinho.
The pair famously clashed during their time in La Liga, when Mourinho was in charge of Real Madrid, but Guardiola insisted it was all about the action on the pitch.
“In England, of course, the most important thing is football,” he said. “The people don’t come to see the manager, they come to see how good our players are.
“I don’t think just this year, in the past as well, with [Jurgen] Klopp, with [Antonio] Conte, with [Claudio] Ranieri, Mourinho, [Mauricio] Pochettino, [Ronald] Koeman, but the reason I work here is just to help the players.”