Pep Guardiola promised that it will be different at Manchester City next year after he faced up to his first season in football management without winning a trophy.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich has won silverware in each of his seven previous seasons – including six league titles - but his debut season in English football is now coming down to a battle to secure Champions League football. That challenge has been further complicated by concerns over the fitness of both David Silva and Sergio Aguero ahead of the Manchester derby on Thursday when Manchester United could leapfrog them in the Premier League.
Both Aguero and Silva had to be substituted in the extra-time defeat against Arsenal on Sunday, while the fitness of both John Stones and Gabriel Jesus is also in doubt.
Guardiola described Aguero’s back as feeling “dead” following a kick by Laurent Koscielny while Silva came off after just 23 minutes but assessments over the next 48 hours will decide their availability. Guardiola, though, was also adamant that his team is still developing and will challenge more strongly next year.
Told that this would be his first season without a trophy, Guardiola said: “Next season, we will be stronger. We will improve. With my past, what I have done in my past, the pressure will be on my shoulders until the last day of my career.
“The team does not need to do a lot of things. We have some problems to score but we played like we want. We are sad today, but tomorrow we have to stand up and finish the games we have still to play. We played like we should do it and I have no regrets.”
City were denied a goal here in the first-half after it was wrongly ruled that Leroy Sane’s cross had gone out of play and they also hit both the post and the crossbar with the match still balanced at 1-1. Guardiola refused to blame the match officials and said that he would instead look to within for the answers.
“The linesman could not see that situation; it’s impossible to see,” he said. “I’m not a referee, it’s not my job. We controlled the game most of the time. We created more chances. They played long balls to [Olivier] Giroud and the counter attack. But it wasn’t easy when there are eight or 10 players there.
“It’s football. Chelsea and Arsenal deserve to be there. I am not a guy who complains. Everybody plays football how he wants. The performance today was outstanding and we will recover. We have to look inside ourselves and see the reason we can improve in the future. The details are so important. Be proactive, not reactive. That is what I want to do.”
Asked what message he had for his players ahead of facing Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United on Thursday, Guardiola added: “To stand up. We have a big game.”