Pep Guardiola says Manchester City Premier League triumph ‘toughest title’ of his career

Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, center, celebrates with players and staff after the Premier League match between Brighton and City at the AMEX Stadium in Brighton. (AP)
Updated 12 May 2019

Pep Guardiola says Manchester City Premier League triumph ‘toughest title’ of his career

  • In most seasons, Liverpool’s tally of 97 points would have seen them crowned champions
  • City came from behind to win 4-1 away to Brighton

BRIGHTON: Pep Guardiola said Manchester City’s 2018/19 Premier League success was the toughest title triumph of his illustrious managerial career.
City came from behind to win 4-1 away to Brighton on Sunday’s final day of the season — a result that meant the reigning champions finished just a point in front of second-placed Liverpool, who won 2-0 at home to Wolves.
In most seasons, Liverpool’s tally of 97 points would have seen them crowned champions.
Guardiola, celebrating his eighth domestic championship in 10 seasons that have featured La Liga and Bundesliga titles with Barcelona and Bayern Munich, was in no doubt about Liverpool’s quality.
“We worked a lot,” he said. “I have to say congratulations to Liverpool of course. Thank you so much. They helped to push us and to increase our standards from last season.”
“To compete against this team pushed us to do what we have done. It’s incredible, 198 points in two seasons.”
“I think last season Manchester City made the standards,” Guardiola added. “That is the level in the Premier League and Liverpool have helped us to be there all the time.”
Guardiola’s side secured exactly 100 points in winning the title last season but the manager was arguably even more impressed by their efforts this term, even if the overall tally was lower.
“To win the title we had to win 14 games in a row,” he explained.
“For two to three months we cannot lose one point and we did it all playing in all competitions until the semifinals of the Champions League.
“It’s incredible. Normally if you get 100 points the tendency is to go down but Liverpool helped us to be consistent.
“This was the toughest title in all my career.”
But Guardiola said next season could be even more competitive.
“It will be tougher but we will be stronger too,” he said.
“When you can win two in a row I have the feeling that next season we will come back and try to be who we are right now.”
Sunday’s result meant Liverpool’s wait for a maiden Premier League title — their last domestic championship was in 1990 — goes on, although they could yet win the Champions League if they beat Tottenham Hotspur when the English rivals meet in a Madrid final on June 1.
Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah, whose 22 goals this season made him a joint-winner of the Premier League’s golden boot award, said the Anfield club would challenge again next term.
“We only lost one (Premier League) game all season,” the Egypt forward said. “We gave everything. We got 97 points. We will fight next season for the title.”


Manchester United and City seek derby delight

Updated 06 December 2019

Manchester United and City seek derby delight

  • Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the points chart

LONDON: Both sides of the Manchester divide will be hoping some derby delight can add impetus to disappointing seasons when City host United on Saturday, while Liverpool travel to Bournemouth aiming to surge further clear at the top of the Premier League.

Manchester United got a badly needed win for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Wednesday, inflicting a first defeat on Tottenham manager Jose Mourinho as the Portuguese returned to Old Trafford.

The Red Devils were again reliant on Marcus Rashford goals as the England forward struck twice to take his tally to 12 in 13 games for club and country.

“He was strong, direct, taking people on, inside and outside with no fear,” said Solskjaer. “That’s what we want — we want to see boys enjoying themselves.”

There has been precious little for United fans to enjoy this season, but just a fifth Premier League victory in 15 games was enough to lift them up to sixth.

That is still 11 points adrift of third-placed City, despite their own struggles at times.

Pep Guardiola’s men looked more like their old selves in thrashing Burnley 4-1 on Tuesday with Gabriel Jesus stepping up in the absence of the injured Sergio Aguero to score twice.

City have lost just one of six league meetings with United since Guardiola took charge three years ago and cannot afford to slip up if they are to maintain any aspirations of catching Liverpool in the title race. The English champions could kick off at the Etihad 14 points behind the leaders, should Jurgen Klopp’s men continue their scintillating form at Bournemouth earlier on Saturday.

“For the distance we are behind Liverpool it would be crazy to think about the title, we have to think about the derby,” said Guardiola.

Klopp could even afford the luxury of leaving Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah on the bench for a 5-2 thrashing of Everton in the Merseyside derby in midweek.

Both are expected to return for the visit to the south coast, but Klopp may rest some of his stars who did start against Everton ahead of a huge week for the European champions.

Liverpool travel to Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat if their defense of the title is not to embarrassingly end in the group stages.

Divock Origi scored twice against Everton and Xherdan Shaqiri struck on his first start of the season to prove Klopp does have the strength in depth to successfully shuffle his pack.

“It’s easy for me to tell them often, very often, how good they are but if they then don’t play it’s not too easy for them to always understand what I say,” said Klopp.

“But if they play and deliver like they did, it’s a very, very important sign for the whole squad.”

Leicester remain Liverpool’s closest challengers, eight points back in second, thanks to a run of eight straight wins in all competitions.

“The team is developing and are proving they have a winning mentality and mindset,” said Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers, who has dismissed speculation linking him with the vacant managerial role at Arsenal.

Next up for the in-form Foxes is a trip to Aston Villa on Sunday.

Villa are one of a host of teams hauled back into the battle to avoid relegation by Southampton’s resurgence with Dean Smith’s men just one point above the drop zone.