‘We’ve lived like a cat’: Pep Guardiola says poor run is a wake-up call for City

<span>Photograph: MCFC/X</span>
Photograph: MCFC/X

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City have been stroked “like a cat” for too long and the champions’ failure to win any of their past four Premier League games is a needed wake-up call.

City have dropped to fourth, six points behind the leaders, Arsenal, after drawing with Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham, and losing on Wednesday at Aston Villa.

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“As a manager I sometimes need that – I need that challenge,” Guardiola said. “For everyone it is good. It’s necessary to live that. For a long time we’ve lived like a cat [stroking his head] and [known] how good we are. We need it to say: ‘Guys this business – it’s terrible.’ You are unbeatable and then, oh my God, you cannot win one game – from nothing. Maybe for myself first, I need that challenge to prove myself, that I’m a good manager, to help the players overcome that situation.

“For the players it’s a good challenge to say: ‘Aston Villa were miles better than all of us, so imagine the other ones.’”

Guardiola won last season’s Champions League with City but offered a warning about qualifying again for the competition. “The club, all the organisation, know we can be out of the Champions League next season, so we have to work hard. As soon as we realise, we come out of here [the slump] quicker. The club needed it. One month ago I thought the club needed a shake, to be shaken. The bad results can help you to live that.”

The winless sequence is City’s poorest since March-April 2017 of Guardiola’s first season, which ended trophyless, but he insisted a poor attitude was not to blame. “It’s not about complacency. Complacency is arriving late to training, not training good, not doing a good job – it not mattering what happens. I’m talking just about bad results. Bad results help you to understand. When you lose games, it is necessary. It’s necessary to live that. After, you take a step forward. It’s the only way.”

Guardiola will have Rodri available again for Sunday’s trip to Luton after the midfielder was suspended for the game at Villa, as he was for City’s two other league losses this season, at Wolves and Arsenal. The manager addressed why Kalvin Phillips remained out of favour. “I feel so sorry for my decisions for him,” he said. “He doesn’t deserve for one second not to have minutes but it’s just that I visualise things and struggle a little to see him.”