Guardiola warns Man City of fourth place
Pep Guardiola has warned his Manchester City stars that they are far from certain to finish in the Premier League’s top four this season.
On Thursday, Guardiola’s second hosts Tottenham are looking to stay in touch with leaders Arsenal after a difficult period that threatens to end their league reign. City are eight points behind Arsenal after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat at Manchester United, but Guardiola is more concerned with the threat from below them in the table.
Fifth-placed Tottenham would be just three points behind City if they win at the Etihad Stadium, while third-placed United leveled the points with Guardiola’s men after drawing at Crystal Palace on Wednesday. Fourth-placed Newcastle are just a point behind City, who last missed out on a top-four place in 2010.
Guardiola believes this season represents the toughest challenge he has faced in his time at Manchester. “When I came here they said, ‘Oh, you’re in the top four’, but I always congratulated ourselves and the team,” Guardiola told reporters. “I give a lot of credit when we’ve qualified for the last 10 or 11 years in the Champions League every season. People say, ‘Oh that’s wrong, that guy is wrong’, but that’s wrong. That’s not true. Now is not the time. It’s time to think about how many matches you need to win for the title. Just win the next one.
After winning just one of their last three league games and suffering a shock League Cup quarter-final defeat at Southampton, City are mired in their worst spell of the season. They’ve managed just one shot on target in games against Southampton and United, while Guardiola’s top scorer Erling Haaland hasn’t found the net in his last three outings. “We have our game, we have our principles but the way we played in the last two games didn’t help Erling to score,” Guardiola said.
“In the past we’ve always had incredible movement in the final third, in small spaces. Now in the last two games we haven’t had it. I would say it was my fault. I don’t I didn’t make them understand how we should attack.”
Having won the title in four of the past five seasons, Guardiola knows City are under pressure to get back on track quickly. “I prefer to be eight points ahead but I like handling this situation, I love it. I have to find something to improve the team. I’m the responsible man,” he said. “People don’t think about memories, how good we were. When I die people will talk about how good Pep is. That’s for sure. But since we’re here people expect us to perform. well, let’s win the games and try to find the way. Otherwise, Pep gets out. That’s how our jobs work and I want Pep involved!”