City are England’s ‘team of decade’ despite slump: Pep - GulfToday

City are England’s ‘team of decade’ despite slump: Pep

City are England’s ‘team of decade’ despite slump: Pep

Manchester City manager Guardiola claimed a pair of English Premier League titles in the 2010s.

Pep Guardiola has insisted Manchester City are English football’s team of the decade, despite his side heading into 2020 some 14 points behind runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Statistics appear to prove him right given City have won 13 domestic trophies since 2010, with only Chelsea (nine) within touching distance of that mark.

City have clearly benefitted from the financial clout they have enjoyed since being taken over by Abu Dhabi ownership in August 2008.

City manager Guardiola reached the peak of his powers when he oversaw an unprecedented treble in the 2018/19 season that saw the club win all three major English trophies — Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup — in the one campaign as well as the Community Shield.

Even though their league form has been a disappointment in the first half of the current season, Guardiola is in no doubt City are “the” team of the decade in England.

“I think this in the last decade was the best team in terms of points, in terms of goals, in terms of everything, titles even. So congratulate Manchester City for that,” he said.

“When we analyse every single day here, what happened day-by-day gives us perspective in what happened in the last 10 seasons, especially when people from Abu Dhabi took over the club and bought good players, interesting managers.”

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager, who joined City in 2016, added: “I think we did it incredibly well.

“People say ‘how was 2019?’ Now people are saying it is a disaster. We won four titles in 2019, so it was an incredible year for us, we enjoyed it a lot.

“In some games in this last part of the year we have struggled a bit but it was an incredible year for us. Congratulations for all the people working here.

“They were fighting with huge elephants here in England, big, big clubs with the biggest history. For the past decade we were part of them. That is amazing.” Despite their current ‘troubles’, City could still win any, or all, of the three cup competitions in which they are involved and Guardiola expects the club to remain a major player in the English game in the decade ahead.

“The big clubs here in England are always looking forward, we are going to try and analyse not just in terms of the squad but as a club how we can do better,” he added.

“Hopefully in the next decade this club can be here for more time.” In the short term, Guardiola has long since conceded the race for this season’s Premier League title to Liverpool and admitted they had to “pray” if they were to win a third successive domestic championship.

But the Catalan manager, who again ruled out being active in the January transfer window, believes his current squad could still have competed for the title had injuries and, he hinted, VAR not sidelined their bid.

“Work harder, play better, and pray,” said Guardiola when asked how City can close the gap to Liverpool.

“Liverpool have been incredible, European champions and they have dropped just two points (so far this season), we have to congratulate them.

“But there are things we cannot control, we cannot control what a fantastic team like Liverpool have done so far and there are other issues you cannot control. When everyone is fit we can do it.

“You (the media) know what they are. You know that.”

Meanwhile, Aymeric Laporte is close to a return to Manchester City’s line-up as Guardiola hopes to have the influential defender back ahead of schedule.

The 25-year-old centre-back has not played for the defending Premier League champions since injuring knee ligaments on the last day of August.

His absence has been cited as a key reason for City falling so far behind Premier League leaders Liverpool, who hold a 14-point advantage over Guardiola’s team.

City originally expected Laporte to be unavailable until February but he is now back in training, albeit on his own, and Guardiola expects him to join in with the full first team squad within the first fortnight of 2020.

“He (Laporte) is getting better,” said Guardiola on Tuesday.

“He is training alone but already on the pitch and I think, yeah, it is the last part.

“I think in one week or maybe 10 days he can come back and can start to train with us.”

The City manager would not speculate on a potential return date for Laporte but, with his club competing in three cup competitions, Guardiola is hoping he will be in contention before the end of January.

Agence France-Presse

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