Manchester City being judged by higher standards than rivals, says boss Pep Guardiola

9 December 2023 0 By Total Football News

Pep GuardiolaPep Guardiola’s side has earned three points from a possible 12 over their last four league games

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes his side is being judged by higher standards than any of their Premier League rivals.

City go to Luton looking to avoid a fifth game without a Premier League win for the first time since 2009. Guardiola has never experienced that throughout his illustrious managerial career.

Their form is so unusual, it has almost generated a belief of a borderline crisis from onlookers, even though City have only lost one of those four winless games.

Also, the teams they have faced in their current run – Chelsea, Liverpool, Tottenham and Aston Villa – are all in the top half of the table and the latter three are in the top five.

Coming off the back of five titles in six years, a domestic treble and, last season, becoming only the second English side to win the authentic Treble, Guardiola feels the reaction is over the top.

“What they demand of us, they didn’t demand of our friends – at all,” he said.

“There is only one team that is going to ‘fail’ to win the Premier League, that is us. For the rest, [winning] it is a big success. Any team.

“In the end, if they don’t win – Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, everyone – it is normal because City should win. It is unfair. It is difficult to handle that every week, every three days, for years and years.”

This season City have the opportunity to win the Premier League for a fourth straight year. Guardiola is acutely aware no club has ever won four English league titles in a row.

In his own words, dropping six points behind Arsenal ahead of the weekend games “is not a disaster” and with the Gunners losing at Villa Park on Saturday, City can close to within three with victory at Kenilworth Road and go four behind new leaders Liverpool.

It is less than a month since City led going into injury-time at Chelsea and were about to go three points clear at the top of the table.

Compared to some of City’s rivals, Guardiola does not feel the dip in form is extensive.

“Man City can have a bad period,” he said. “Human beings change. Private lives can change. Bad moments are there.

“In football, in sport, in life, the most difficult thing is to win and win and win. We have done it. For many years, we were the main candidates to win everything, and we were there. When we were out in the semi-final of the Champions League (against Real Madrid in 2022), it was a big disaster. That was our level.

“In sport, you have seasons where [a bad period] can happen. Take a look at our rivals. Of course we can lose games and competitions. But please don’t say it is complacency. The team is not [made] in that way.”

Analysis – would Guardiola be given the same slack?

BBC football reporter, Simon Stone

Evidently, Guardiola is under pressure to find answers right now. But there is also a suspicion his critics are revelling in what, by his standards, is relative failure.

There is an element of truth in his belief about City being the only team that can fail. However, it also has to be acknowledged their rivals have spent lots of money on players and are all among the world’s biggest – and richest clubs.

Arsenal smashed their transfer record to buy England midfielder Declan Rice. With Jurrien Timber and Kai Havertz, their overall summer outlay was more than £200m, then David Raya came in on loan. That spend means they should be challenging at the top of the table.

Once the sales of Fabinho and Jordan Henderson are taken into account, Liverpool’s net spend was nearly £100m. Manchester United’s was almost £150m while Chelsea’s was pushing towards £200m.

While it could hardly be claimed Erik ten Hag has escaped scrutiny at Old Trafford, Mauricio Pochettino is being given time to try to work out how to get a winning team from the huge number of new arrivals at Chelsea over the past three transfer windows.

It is an impossible question to answer but would Guardiola – despite having achieved far more and boasting a far more extensive period of success – be given a similar amount of slack if he delivered five wins from 15 games with a similar squad, leaving the club in 10th? I suspect he thinks not.

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