Pep Guardiola has thanked Manchester City for giving him the time to mould his formidable Premier League frontrunners.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss arrived in Manchester to much fanfare for the 2016-17 campaign but, after an encouraging start, City faded from the title picture around the turn of the year and finished the season trophy-less.
Their strong form appears built to last this time around, with Arsenal visiting the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to take on a side who have won nine and drawn one of their 10 top-flight matches to date.
It has been a similar story in the Champions League, with Wednesday’s thrilling 4-2 win at Napoli preserving City’s 100 per cent record and booking a place in the knockout stages with two Group F games to spare.
“Last season, we were not able to win one game away in the Champions League and this season we have won two, and hopefully against Shakhtar Donetsk we can do so again,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“The people expect that when a new manager comes it can instantly work and sometimes people forget that you need time to settle something.
“Get the players to know each other, to trust each other, to know everything about the Premier League – the opponents, the style of play, the referees – and it doesn’t matter how much success you had in the past or not, you need time sometimes.
“Fortunately, I am a lucky guy and I have a club where they give me time to do that, so I don’t have the feeling that they don’t trust me and that is fascinating. That’s why I’m so happy to be here.”
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Guardiola has overhauled an aging squad since his arrival, with close-season signings Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo joining stand-out recruits Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus in Manchester.
But it is a product of City’s academy system currently setting tongues wagging – midfielder Phil Foden, who was named player of the tournament after England claimed Under-17 World Cup glory last weekend.
Guardiola believes the 17-year-old has the talent to become a first-team fixture but acknowledges such a distinction will not be easily won.
“We trust him a lot, but it depends on the passion that he has,” he added. “We cannot forget that he is 17 or 18 years old competing with the likes of Kevin de Bruyne, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure and Bernardo Silva and that step to the first team is not easy.
“But I know that he has passion and he will be there. It depends on him, if he wants to stay or move, but we are going to do absolutely everything because we said how good he is before he was nominated as the best player in the World Cup so there is no doubt in how much he believes in himself.”
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