EPL

Pep Guardiola doesn’t expect Man City to hit same standards this season

By Sports Desk August 10, 2023

Pep Guardiola claims it is inevitable standards will drop at Manchester City following last season’s treble success.

The City boss accepts it is unlikely his team will be able to match the intensity that saw them pick up the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League trophies last term as a new campaign begins.

The Spaniard wants to make sure City pace their challenge for further silverware and is not even thinking about an end goal yet.

“We are going to drop that’s for sure,” said Guardiola, whose side begin their quest for a sixth domestic title in seven years at Burnley on Friday.

“It’s inevitable a little bit. We’ll try to avoid it as much as possible. Now it’s (about) not dropping too much – staying there, staying there, (being) close to our rivals.

“Then try to, in the last four, five, or six months, try to do what we have done every season. I don’t want to do it now. That is my feeling.

“Now, (it would be a) big mistake thinking about trophies and titles – big mistake.”

Guardiola also does not want to set any targets for Erling Haaland in his second season at the club.

The prolific Norwegian enjoyed an outstanding first year, firing 52 goals in just 53 appearances.

Guardiola said: “I will advise him, don’t put much pressure on the goals. I said to Erling, come back at your best, physically and mentally. If you score, fine. If you don’t score, fine.

“Try to improve in your details, in your quality and skills, and the team will help you as much as possible to score goals. I don’t want (to ask of) Erling to score 50 or 60.

“Try to be happy like he was last season and relax. Afterwards, the goals will come naturally, don’t force it.”

Concerns have been expressed this week about the potential impact on players of the edict for referees to be stricter when adding on added time.

Guardiola himself felt the amount added in the Community Shield against Arsenal last weekend was excessive.

He said: “Why eight minutes, not 12 or four? I don’t know exactly what happened. There was one goal and four or five substitutions but no injuries.

“If you want to control it, do it like basketball – stop the clock.

“If they are going to play the 10 minutes (extra) we are going to do it but, at the end we are going to play 41 games not 38 this season.”

The continuing expansion of the football calendar, along with pre-season tours, is also further limiting players’ breaks.

Guardiola said: “Many players asked me, ‘Give me more days off Pep’. I said I can’t.

“It’s a problem. It’s getting worse – more games, more games and more than that. Players need to go to the theatre, cinema, park, the gardens, to do other things that aren’t to do with football.”

Guardiola insists, however, that when it comes to his side’s additional showpiece fixtures this season – next week’s European Super Cup and the Club World Cup in December – he is honoured to be involved.

“I love it,” he said. “I love to play the Super Cup. This club never won the Super Cup and of course to play the Club World Cup you have to win the Champions League. This opportunity is a pleasure.”

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