Pep Guardiola has praised how Manchester City became the team of the decade in England and is confident the club can elevate their status further in the 2020s.
In the past 10 years City’s haul of 10 major domestic trophies is the highest, three clear of Chelsea’s seven and better than Manchester United’s five. Before the club’s first game of the new decade, against Everton on Wednesday, Guardiola said: “I think in the last decade we were the best team in terms of points, in terms of goals, in terms of everything – titles even. So congratulate Manchester City for that.
“When we analyse every single day here, what happened day-by-day, it gives us perspective in what happened in the last 10 seasons, especially when the people from Abu Dhabi took over the club and bought good players, [brought] interesting managers and bigger stuff.”
Despite trailing by 14 points to Liverpool – who have a game in hand – Guardiola denied 2019 has been poor by pointing to last season’s sweep of domestic titles.
“We did it incredibly well,” he said. “People say ‘how was 2019?’ [and] now people are saying it is a disaster. We won four titles [including the Community Shield], so it was an incredible year for us. In some games in this last part of the year we have struggled but it was an incredible year for us. Congratulations to all the people working here. They were fighting with ‘huge elephants’ here in England, big clubs with the biggest history. For the past decade we were part of them. That is amazing.”
Guardiola is certain City can improve in the next decade. “The big clubs in England are always looking forward,” he said. “We are going to try and analyse not just in terms of the squad but as a club how we can do better.”
He denied the gap to Liverpool is solely due to the failure to buy Harry Maguire or another centre-back in the summer or an overall lack of major signings, having recruited João Cancelo and Rodri.
“It’s not the only reason why,” said Guardiola, who referenced Leroy Sané and Aymeric Laporte’s long-term injuries. “We don’t expect to lose important players for six or seven months. Any top team with important players out for six or seven months can suffer a little bit. The manager is good when you have good players and the other is bullshit [that the manager is bad when players are injured].”
Cancelo has struggled for form and Guardiola was ambiguous regarding the full-back’s future. “I don’t know what will happen in a few weeks,” he said. “In the summer we will discuss – if a player wants to leave, it’s simple, the agent has to call to the club.”
Guardiola said he could strengthen the squad in January. “I never say never,” he said, before admitting City need to “pray” to have any hope of catching Liverpool.
Laporte, meanwhile, is close to a return. “He is getting better. He is training alone but already on the pitch and I think, yeah, it is the last part [of recovery]. In one week or maybe 10 days be can come back and start to train with us,” the manager said.