Pep Guardiola took aim at Sky Sports’ pundits after his Manchester City team were accused of complacency, with the Treble-winning manager asking which of their broadcasters have won four consecutive Premier League titles.
The City manager, during an astonishing six-minute breakdown of his team’s coverage on television, boldly predicted an unprecedented fourth-straight title despite the questions raised in the Sky Sports analysis after dropping six points out of nine, including the draw against Tottenham, when complacency was mentioned.
Sky Sports put in the thick end of the £6.7 billion to secure the next round of domestic rights for live Premier League football, but they are not immune to criticism from a manager who has won five titles since he arrived in England. Guardiola has seen enough in the last month to give him confidence City can do what no other team in the history of English football has achieved and win four on the bounce.
“He knows how difficult it is. Otherwise, Gary Neville would’ve won four [consecutive] Premier Leagues in the best period of Manchester United. But he didn’t do it, you know?” said Guardiola.
“Jamie Carragher didn’t win one once. Micah Richards didn’t win four Premier Leagues in a row. Never, ever. It’s never happened. There is more chance of if it not happening than happening. Just one Treble before us. It’s so difficult to do it again and again. We don’t have what others have, who haven’t done it for many, many years.”
It was quite a claim from Guardiola, who is usually reserved with expectations for the season. Yet after draws against Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs, he has seen a City team playing title-winning football, regardless of the television analysis.
It was Neville who spoke of complacency, while Richards suggested something “isn’t right” at the Etihad. Carragher spoke of the title race being open this season.
“I see my team, how they fight, how they press, how they continue until the end and how upset they are after we concede. So I don’t have that feeling [of complacency]. Maybe, maybe I’m wrong and they are seeing everything that I’m not able to see. But I don’t have that feeling,” Guardiola added.
“This team so far, no chance. How we behave against Young Boys, Red Star, you have to be humble enough. I’m in love with my team. Maybe years and still I am.
“I saw how we pressed Tottenham, the game against Liverpool, even against Chelsea. How we’ve done doesn’t give me the feeling that we say, ‘look how good we are’ or we play a little bit naive or play like we don’t respect the opponents. Not at all. I don’t have that feeling.”
There was certainly no question of passion or desire as City players, led by Erling Haaland, surrounded the referee Simon Hooper at the final whistle when he blew up early for a foul as Jack Grealish was running through. Guardiola says City will pay a fine after a charge from the Football Association for failing to control players.
“I would like to know how the reaction should be when that last action happened,” he said. “How should the players not react? I’m sorry, we lost… we cannot talk, stay home and nothing happened. It’s a human instinct. Right now the players will not react in that way, but in that moment someone tell me.
“They want to fine [us], we’ll be fined. It’s fine. I promise you, all of us, if you are a footballer and it happened, you would react in that way. It happened 20 years ago, 40 years ago, it will happen in 40 years. They didn’t apologise, we can’t apologise. But I don’t understand how it should be different. I understand my players completely.”
“My feeling today is we’re going to win the Premier League. If we play at the levels that we showed against Liverpool and Tottenham, we’re going to do it again – knowing that it is not easy,” he added.