Guardiola eyes new cycle of City success as he plots way to narrow gap to Liverpool
Pep Guardiola is shocked Manchester City and Liverpool have traded places in the Premier League and promised his team will strive to find a response.
City looked set for an era of domination when Guardiola led them to Premier League glory with 100 points in the 2017-18 season, following it up with an unprecedented domestic treble last time around.
However, they were pushed all the way by Liverpool in the Premier League in 2018-19, with the 25-point gap between the sides from the previous campaign reduced to a solitary point at the conclusion of a gripping title race.
Jurgen Klopp's Reds have dominated this season, speeding to 73 points by winning 24 of 25 games, and Guardiola finds it difficult to explain how City, who sit second in the table, have fallen so far adrift.
5 – Jürgen Klopp has been named @premierleague manager of the month for the third consecutive month and for the fifth time this season; the most by the same boss in a single season in the competition’s history. Elect. #PLAwards pic.twitter.com/5YCpNaVhdF— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 7, 2020
"I think we're a good team. I like the way we've played this season," he said. "We cannot deny the distance is big – 22 points - we didn't expect it honestly at the beginning of the season. But it's the reality.
"We have to accept it. We have to learn about it, but I like my team."
When asked about teams enjoying cycles of success, Guardiola stressed only the men's tennis big three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic appear immune to drop-offs in trophy-winning form.
"Of course cycles change," he said. "It's not eternal except Federer, Nadal and Djokovic. [For] the rest there are cycles. One year ago, people said we were unstoppable, and we were going to maintain this level for four or five years, nobody could beat us.
"I don't know what's going to happen in future. I'm pretty sure we're going to prepare as well as possible to reduce this gap we have against Liverpool.
"Two seasons ago, when we had 100 points we were 25 points in front of them. They reduced the gap last season to one point and this season look what happened. So now the other teams, we have to do it."
Guardiola said his team were free to "do whatever they want" during City's short in-season break, which follows Sunday's match against West Ham.
They will return to action against third-placed Leicester City on February 22, when City will hope to find more of a cutting edge than was evident in last weekend's defeat at Tottenham.
A bad result and overall performance... We should have done the job and score way before being punished tonight. Lessons got to be learned for the next important games #ComeOnCity pic.twitter.com/odqDXDp9Ni— Raheem Sterling (@sterling7) February 2, 2020
City dominated in north London but could not find a breakthrough before subsiding to a 2-0 loss in the wake of Oleksandr Zinchenko's red card.
"We cannot lose the way we are playing," Guardiola added. "Putting the ball in the net is the most difficult thing in football and we're trying to improve."Published 07 Feb 2020, 21:40 IST