PEP GUARDIOLA admits Manchester City have been ‘suffering’ during their dismal title defence.
The reigning champs have dropped 22 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, with a third of the season still to play.
They have lost six times in the league already this term — and the defeat at Tottenham last weekend was a familiar story.
City dominated much of the game, wasted chances, then conceded two goals to counter-attacks.
Boss Guardiola said: “We have a big rival 22 points ahead, that means something is missing and something is not good.
“I would like to find the explanation. I tell them, ‘Miss as much as you want but keep creating. Try and try’.
“They suffer. I know the reaction in the locker room after the game — they want it.
“I tell them to be free, try to be aggressive. If it doesn’t happen, then do it the next game. If not, the next. If not, next season.
“They’ve always had courage to play. It’s not about concern, I’m sad for my players.
“I suffer for them because I know they want to do it. Maybe we’ll learn for the future.”
Striker Sergio Aguero has certainly done his bit — bagging 21 goals and winning January Player of the Month.
Defiant Guardiola also dismissed suggestions it will be impossible for his team to peg back Jurgen Klopp’s men next term.
He said: “Just one year ago, they said that we were unstoppable for the next four or five years after two seasons of incredible success.”