City must improve or forget winning the title, says Guardiola

‘If our level is the last game, we will not win,’ says coach about fourth defeat of the season

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters/File Photo

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola. Photograph: Jason Cairnduff/Action Images via Reuters/File Photo

 

Pep Guardiola has warned that unless Manchester City improve they can forget the title. The manager’s analysis of his side’s championship defence follows the 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United on Tuesday, a fourth defeat of the season, which leaves them five points behind Liverpool.

The gap would have been greater but Jürgen Klopp’s team could only draw with Leicester City on Wednesday. Guardiola welcomed the result but is adamant his team must improve. “It’s much better [the draw] but immediately I’d say: ‘How will be our level?’ If our level is the last game it doesn’t matter if [the gap is] five points or two points or one; we are not going to win [the title] .

“Nothing changed. What we learn or we have to learn from the previous game is for the next game. You are satisfied for the result and that’s all, and if we don’t see what we have to do, we will not be contenders until the end.”

Guardiola denied that City’s unconvincing title defence is because age is catching up with David Silva and Fernandinho, and refused to point to Kevin De Bruyne’s injuries as a prevailing factor.

Silva and Fernandinho are 33 and De Bruyne has sustained two serious knee problems this year, limiting him to nine league appearances. Guardiola said: “Our problems must be resolved collectively.”

Regarding De Bruyne, he said: “All the players are playing at a high level when the team playing good; it is not for one single reason [if we lose] . What we have to do is play good, and when this happens the potential of individual players will increase.”

Pressed as to what the reason was for the four defeats, Guardiola said: “Sometimes you play these kind of games. We have to try to avoid it happening again.”

Walker taunt

He brushed off Kyle Walker’s tweet that appeared to taunt Liverpool following their draw. On Thursday the right-back tweeted: “So basically they thought they were gonna go seven points ahead . . . ” This was accompanied by a photo of Harry Maguire, who scored Leicester’s equaliser. The tweet was later deleted.

“I’m not concerned about social media of the players,” Guardiola said. “The players tweeting or social media, Instagram, I cannot control it.” Might it gee up Liverpool? “I don’t think so. The motivation is to win games.”

City face a pivotal eight days, starting with Arsenal’s visit tomorrow. This is followed by the trip to Everton on Wednesday before Chelsea are at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday week.

“The situation we have this week is the same as we have in the last two or three months; it happens, it’s not new,” Guardiola said. “It’s a challenge. The only way I know after a negative result is to focus on the play and the mentality to say: ‘Okay, we’re in February 1st, there is a lot of points to play and still many things are going to happen.’ ” – Guardian

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