Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has been surprised at how quickly his side have hit top form, after they made it three wins in a week against Stoke City on Saturday.
Having beaten Sunderland 2-1 before a 5-0 thrashing of Steaua Bucharest in the first leg of their Champions league play-off, City dispatched Stoke 4-1 at the bet365 Stadium thanks to two goals each from Sergio Aguero and Nolito.
With his side having scored 11 times and conceded just once from open play in those games, Guardiola admits he is delighted by the way his players have hit the ground running this season.
“It’s impossible to say what we can achieve,” he said. “In a short time and in the way we’ve played the last two games, they’ve shown me how intelligent they are.
“They have a lot of quality and that’s why we can show it here, at one of the toughest games in the Premier League with the wind, the slow pitch.
“We suffered for five minutes after they scored but after that they didn’t create many chances. After the 2-1 we were stable again and created a lot of ‘almost’ chances. We missed the last pass.
“But the rest, we saw again an amazing team spirit, how they communicated, celebrated the goals and with the fans. That’s the first step. I’m a little bit surprised at the level we’ve played here and in Bucharest after a short time.
“We’ve scored nine goals in two games. It was a nice week for us. Of course we have to have respect for Steaua in the second game, but it’s almost done.”
Stoke boss Mark Hughes accused referee Mike Dean of enjoying attention in the wake of the match, after he made three debatable penalty decisions across the 90 minutes.
Ryan Shawcross was penalised for holding Nicolas Otamendi’s arm while Aleksandar Kolarov’s clumsy challenge on Joe Allen went unpunished in the first half.
Stoke skipper Shawcross won a spot-kick for his own side after being blocked at a corner by Raheem Sterling.
Guardiola says teams must be wary of conceding similar fouls over the rest of the season, but insists he will not attach blame to the officials should City suffer a defeat.
“We have to be careful. I don’t know what will happen in six months. It’s why I like zonal marking, so you attack the ball,” he said.
“You will realise that the manager of Manchester City will speak few, few times about the decisions of the referee. If you win, you deserve it. If you don’t, you deserve it.”
City fans serenaded Guardiola with a new song during and after the victory, and the former Barcelona boss was delighted to have delivered a result for the travelling faithful.
“I feel that they like that we’re here,” he added. “When I see how happy they are at the end, that’s why we’re here – to make the supporters happy. I want to tell them they have to be proud of the Manchester City players.”
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