Pep Guardiola described his Manchester City players as “heroes” and refused to point the finger of blame at them after back-to-back Premier League defeats, but he admitted good fortune “will not come from above” as they prepare to face Southampton.
City slipped to a 3-2 defeat at home to Crystal Palace before suffering a 2-1 reverse at Leicester City on Boxing Day and desperately need a victory over Southampton at St Mary’s to avoid dropping further behind Liverpool at the top of the table.
The champions are seven points adrift of Jurgen Klopp’s league leaders ahead of the trip to the south coast and with a blockbuster clash between the sides to come next week, but Guardiola underlined the strength of his belief in his squad.
“I accept the situation,” Guardiola told reporters.
“I know my players perfectly and if you believe I am going to doubt them for one second you are completely wrong. They are heroes for me.
“First of all I put myself in front of the mirror and never point the finger. I say what am I going to do to help them.
“It’s a big chance for me. I wouldn’t say I like this situation but it’s common in football and I like to handle it. I’ll prove myself.
“I’ll help them to help each other and prove who we are.”
PEP: We have the belief, whether it’s win or lose.
Now we have to come back and win if we want to fight for trophies.
They are heroes for me. Nothing is going to change.
— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 29, 2018
City were unbeaten in the league at the start of December and pundits were predicting one of the closest title races in years as they went head-to-head with Liverpool.
After a first defeat of the season against Chelsea, a disappointing Christmas period for Guardiola saw Tottenham leapfrog his side into second place, but the City boss rejected suggestions that his players tend to struggle in December.
“Why should we not believe given what these players have done in the last 16 months?” Guardiola bristled. “I am close to them and always will be.
“I always I believe to win you have to play good. I will continue in that way. The game will speak for itself.
“We are not in good form and a win will help us a lot. The preparation of the game is what you have to do to win. The fortune to win will not come from above – it will come if we do something.
“You are the guys who said we are invincibles. We never thought about that. You have never heard me say that.
“If we win it is because we have done a lot of work. I don’t know if it will be enough.”
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