Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Guardiola uneasy over lofty Manchester City comparisons

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 25 Sep 2017

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Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City can simply look back at recent seasons to avoid getting carried away with their sparkling recent form.

City sit top of the Premier League after a run of landslide wins over Liverpool, Watford and Crystal Palace, while they dispatched Feyenoord 4-0 in their Champions League opener two weeks ago.

Guardiola’s men return to action in Europe’s elite competition at home to Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday but the ex-Barcelona boss has been here before when it comes to early-season optimism.

Including a two-legged Champions League qualifier against Steaua Bucharest, City won their first 10 competitive matches under Guardiola before a 3-3 draw at Celtic 12 months ago set in motion a winless run of six games in all competitions.

They finished trophy-less last time around and at the start of 2015-16, under the Catalan’s predecessor Manuel Pellegrini, City won their opening five Premier League matches before limping to a fourth-place finish.

“It’s just September. There is a long time to go and lots of games still to play,” Guardiola told a pre-match news conference.

“The players know it’s September, it’s easy [to keep them focused].

“In the last years Manchester City always started good and afterwards we were not able to achieve our [expected] results.

“So, we focus on every competition right now and go game by game.”

Guardiola was reluctant to entertain stylistic comparisons between the Barca and Bayern Munich sides he led and his current crop, again taking the opportunity to remind his players that achievements at the season’s end are the ones that endure.

“It’s too early to say. We have players here I didn’t have in the past,” he added.

“It is difficult for me to compare. When I was there, it is easy to defend our ideas because we won a lot of titles. Here we didn’t win anything. We will be judged for that.

“The brilliance, the style, I can talk about that and defend it 100 per cent, but you are demanding titles and not the way we play. That is what we have to try to do, win titles.”

On current form, Kevin De Bruyne would arguably be able to grace either of Guardiola’s previous outfits.

After the 5-0 triumph over Palace, the 26-year-old midfielder told reporters preliminary plans were in place to discuss a contract extension.

Despite the club-record signing still having four years to run on his current deal, Guardiola confirmed City were working towards tying down the Belgium international.

“The transfer window closed on September 1 but we are still working,” he said. “As a club we want Kevin and the other ones to stay for as long as possible.”

City right-back Kyle Walker added: “Kevin has shown for a number of seasons what a player he is and to play behind him is a joy. It is helping my game and I can learn from him.”

Walker’s fellow full-back Benjamin Mendy faces a late fitness test on a knee injury before the match against the Ukrainian champions, while Ilkay Gundogan (knee) and Vincent Kompany (calf) are set to miss out once more. 

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