Pep Guardiola says he cannot take credit for Manchester City winger Riyad Mahrez’s fabulous form.
The Algeria captain took his tally to 21 for the season with a double in the 4-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
It is the most goals Mahrez has scored in a single campaign, beating the 18 he got in Leicester’s Premier League title win in 2016.
And City manager Guardiola, whose side lead a tense title race by six points from Liverpool, said it is down to the players and their desire to improve, not him.
“The ability comes from his mum and dad, so I can’t help them (the players). The goals belong to them — I can’t do anything,” he added.
“Riyad was the best player when they won the league at Leicester — the quality belongs to them. I just try, as a manager, to make them feel together and the movements they do together can increase their abilities.”
Mahrez’s father Ahmed played football in Algeria but died of a heart attack when the City star was just 15.
France-born Mahrez previously said he took football more seriously after his father’s death and vowed to become a professional to honor him.
Guardiola’s influence has helped the 31-year-old develop his all-round game further though, and become more clinical in front of goal.
“Of course it’s down to parents and education and everything,” said Mahrez. “Obviously Pep has a big influence on me, on us (as a team) and made me improve a lot with my football. That’s why he’s one of the best managers.
“I don’t know if I’m a great goal-scorer, but I’m trying to help the team as much as I can every game. This season I’m more efficient, but it’s because of the work we’re doing in training.
“I’m trying to be more in the box, and trying to be involved everywhere to try to score goals and help the team. That’s the only thing I’m trying to do.”
Mahrez admitted that City’s derby win was special and when they play as well as they did in the second half — where he scored both his goals and rivals United did not have a shot on goal — then “it’s difficult to take us on.”
He added: “I think we were very good in the second half, and we were very clinical towards the goal. That’s what made the difference.
“The title race is going to be tight until the end of the season, it will go until the end. We focus on going game by game. We know Liverpool isn’t going to fall behind.”