Pep Guardiola has warned Manchester City’s rivals that his side will be even better next season as they head into a final-day showdown for the Premier League title.
Guardiola’s team set an English top-flight record of 100 points when winning the league last season and will retain their crown with a total of 98 if they beat Brighton in their last game on Sunday.
City won the title by 19 points a year ago but this time have been pushed all the way by a Liverpool team who have lost just one league match all season, and despite winning their past 13 Premier League matches, hold just a one-point lead over Jurgen Klopp’s men heading into the final round of fixtures.
The City manager believes that, regardless of who finishes top this weekend, City are well placed to make an even more powerful run next season.
“We will be better. Next season, we will be stronger,” Guardiola said.
Guardiola says City’s players are better than they were a year ago because they are more familiar with each other and with his demands.
“We understand what we are going to do quicker. At the end, we haven’t changed too much our patterns and the way we want to play,” he said.
“That’s why everybody is more comfortable in understanding in what they have to do. It depends on how other teams want to defend.
“In general, I think especially in the Premier League, we were so consistent. In the Champions League, we were a little bit more vulnerable, I think because of the opponents, because of the tension, because of the desire to do well sometimes.
“But I think that is a process. At the end, we do many things better.”
– No nerves for Guardiola –
Guardiola is also happy with his players’ capacity for self-motivation, to the extent that he feels he could, if he wanted to, decide not to give a team talk before Sunday’s match at the Amex Stadium.
“I don’t have to say anything to motivate them. I think my speech on Sunday will be zero. They want to win the Premier League,” he said.
“From what I saw in the training sessions, they want to win it, knowing that we can lose it.
“We saw in the Champions League in the last week why this game is amazing. But we want to win. So we are going to go out there at Brighton to try to win the game.”
Guardiola is adamant that he is not nervous going into Sunday’s match, declaring that he was more apprehensive when his team trailed Liverpool by seven points at the start of January — shortly before they beat Jurgen Klopp’s side in Manchester.
“No nerves at all. I was nervous before the Liverpool game here when we were seven points behind and if we lose, we go 10 points behind, with four months of the season to play,” he said.
“Then, I thought: ‘Wow, if you lose today, the last months will be so difficult’. Now, no way. I sleep like a little boy.
“Before the game, I will say: ‘Guys, go out there and play like you have in the past two seasons. Be yourselves, and whatever happens, it is incredible what you have done’. That is all.”