City&aposs stuttering form, and the fact it was the biggest and last game of the weekend, has led to scrutiny of the Premier League champions that they are not usually subjected to, with Gary Neville suggesting there was complacency in the side and fellow pundits Micah Richards and Jamie Carragher also airing critical thoughts. They were all dismissed by Guardiola on Tuesday as the manager pointed to their lack of Premier League achievements as he claimed that he was better placed to analyse his team than they were given.
Guardiola had already said that he believes his team will win the league again this season based on the level of performance shown against Liverpool and Tottenham, despite being unable to claim three points in either game. Guardiola said he would &apossign right now&apos if anyone could guarantee that his players would sustain their current form for the rest of the campaign, even if there are improvements to be made.
Moving on to rubbish the idea that he had criticised Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta or engaged in mind games, Guardiola also revealed his message to players in the dressing room after recent draws.
Here is the answer in full as the City manager unloaded on what he felt to be unnecessary comments about his team …
“I dont have anything to say about the pundits, honestly. Its not about that [complacency]. Maybe Im wrong but I dont think its about complacency.
“I know the players, I know how they run. How we behave is extraordinary. I have a feeling that if we maintain that level, well win the Premier League. We will win it again.
“He knows how difficult it is otherwise Gary Neville wouldve won four Premier Leagues in the best period of Manchester United. But he didnt do it, you know?
“I see my team, how they fight, how they press, how they continue until the end and how upset they are after we concede. So I dont have that feeling. Maybe, maybe Im wrong and they are seeing everything that Im not able to see. But I dont have that feeling.
“Normally it happens that when you drop points, people say &aposOK you drop points, against Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham what a disaster.&apos Its Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham – what do people expect? That we get 120 points and be 20 points in front?
“Of course our behaviour in some moments, after winning the Treble and three leagues in a row, you need sometimes to defend a cross more aggressively, how we attack a ball. They are the little details. The long ball to Manu Akanji to the Leipzig player, wins the duel and scores a goal. Yeah, they are the little details. It happens. They come because we won a lot.
“We talk a lot about how we still need to be there but I saw how we pressed Tottenham, the game against Liverpool, even against Chelsea. How weve done doesnt give me the feeling that we say, &aposlook how good we are&apos or we play a little bit nave or play like we dont respect the opponents. Not at all. I dont have that feeling.
“Jamie Carragher didnt win one [Premier League title] once. Micah Richards didnt win four Premier Leagues in a row. Never, ever. Its never happened. There is more chance of it not happening than happening. Just one Treble before us. Its so difficult to do it again and again. We dont have what others have, who havent done it for many, many years.
“My feeling is that its so difficult to maintain the level of Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea. If were able to do it then we will. But its so difficult. Im not sure but this is the target, to maintain the level we are playing.
“I think right now, if we maintain the level of Liverpool and Tottenham, Ill sign for it right now if we maintain that every single game. We didnt win 5-0, we drew. But Id sign right now. My team behave the way weve played the last two games. My players feel that and my opponents feel that.
“I dont know if we can sustain that all season and that is the challenge. If we lose and go six points [behind] then keep going, keep going the season is so long. Arrive in March and April, being there in all competitions. This is the target we want to do.
“Im very very pleased with the team. Very pleased. I said to them right after Liverpool and Tottenham. Sometimes I have to talk with the team and Im not 100 per cent certain what I feel. When youre not 100 per cent then shut up, Pep. Go home and maybe talk tomorrow. After both I said heads up, go to the media and defend proudly what youve done because we have no regrets.
“If we dont win and its complacency, cause and effect, then OK, I cannot say anything. We lose semi-finals and I dont have character. Many times I listen over seven or eight years. People say, &aposah you wanna make a dig to Mikel&apos. I didnt want to make a dig to Mikel. It was a little joke, maybe people didnt get it. If I wanna say something to Mikel I call him – we spoke to each other one week ago.
“The mind games? Mind games is to play better than the opponents. Mind games is if you have the ball for 15 minutes, creating chances and chances. The mind games are if you are much better than them. Managers to control the emotions of players before and after? No chance.
“I come here to use my press conference for mind games to the opponent? To beat Villa is to play better.