Subscribe to receive Miguel Delaney’s Reading the Game newsletter in your email inbox at no cost.
Subscribe to Miguel Delaney’s weekly newsletter at no cost.
Pep Guardiola, the manager of Manchester City, thinks that the team’s recent decline has served as a necessary reminder of reality.
Guardiola expressed that he and his team, who achieved a treble victory, have been receiving excessive praise and attention, comparing it to being petted like a cat. He believes it is now time for them to face a challenge.
On Wednesday, City were not just defeated but also outplayed by Aston Villa. This outcome caused their winless streak in the Premier League to reach four games and dropped them to fourth place in the standings.
“In my role as a manager, there are times when I crave a challenging task,” stated Guardiola during a press conference before Sunday’s match against Luton.
I believe it is beneficial for all individuals. It is essential to experience it.
“We have been living in the mindset of a cat for quite some time,” (Guardiola imitated stroking his own head), “and we are well aware of our abilities.”
“We require it to state: ‘Folks, this company is a disaster.’ You have never been defeated and yet, suddenly, you are unable to win a single game – out of nowhere.”
Perhaps I need to face this challenge first in order to prove to myself that I am a capable manager and to support the players in overcoming the situation.
“It is a great challenge for the players to acknowledge that Aston Villa was far superior to all of us, just imagine how much better the other teams must be.”
“The team and its administration are aware that we may not make it to the Champions League next season, therefore we must put in extra effort. Once this realization sets in, we will have to act swiftly and leave this situation behind us.”
“The team required it. A month ago, I believed that the team needed to be shaken up. The poor outcomes can serve as a catalyst for change.”
Despite suggestions of complacency within his squad, Guardiola promptly dismissed them and emphasized that high standards are still upheld.
He stated that complacency is not the issue, as it involves being late to training, not performing well, and not caring about the outcome.
“I am referring specifically to negative outcomes. These outcomes can provide valuable insight and understanding. Losing games is an essential part of the process and allows for growth.”
“Once you take a step forward, it is the only option.”
The team will welcome back Rodri, a key midfielder, at Kenilworth Road following the completion of his most recent suspension. The player, who is of Spanish origin, has already sat out four matches due to disciplinary action this year, all of which resulted in defeats for Guardiola’s team.
Guardiola once more ignored Kalvin Phillips’ qualifications when making his team selection at Villa Park, adding to the rumors that the English midfielder may depart from the club in January.
Phillips has not been able to establish a solid presence at the Etihad Stadium since transferring from Leeds in the summer of 2022.
Guardiola expressed uncertainty about the future, and regretted his choices for the player. He believed the player deserved playing time but had difficulty imagining him in certain situations.
Kevin De Bruyne, who has been out since undergoing hamstring surgery in August, has been named in City’s squad for the Club World Cup later this month but it is not yet clear if he will be fit to play.
Guardiola suggested that it may be premature, but he was unsure.