If Manchester City beat Aston Villa on Sunday to claim a fourth title in five years, Pep Guardiola believes they will hit the Manchester United greatness of Alex Ferguson. Only the Scottish side has achieved this feat three times in the Premier League era and Guardiola has no doubts about where it will place its team if they can do it for the first time.
“It will be great, of course it will be great,” the City manager said of the potential performance. “When I arrived, people here said the Premier League is so difficult, it’s the toughest. Everyone wins, different [teams], only Sir Alex Ferguson with United was able to win three or four championships, four in five years. So when this happened, you realize the magnitude of this United in this period that has been able to do this many, many times.
“We’re close to doing it or being part of it, and we’ve got to try and get it. What it means – I’d say how good it is. Because we’re in this position, close, we’re going to try it We are here because of what happened in the past [too] – a lot of work went into the first season when we didn’t win.”
Beat Villa and Liverpool, who play at home against Wolves, cannot catch City. One laid-back Guardiola, who may have Kyle Walker and John Stones back from injury, suggested that even United fans will want City to triumph, preventing their fierce rivals from claiming what would be a 20th title, matching their record tally.
“So United love City more than Liverpool? Is it true? So I was wrong when I said everyone wants Liverpool in this country. Welcome [I say to United fans]† Welcome. If they want to join us on the street [to celebrate]† But they have to wear the blue shirt. They have to wear it.”
Guardiola has been with City since the summer of 2016 and many players joined then a season or two later. But despite this span of time and his exhausting nature, he has no doubts that City will be just as energetic next season, come what may on Sunday.
“If we had this energy this season and the previous seasons, why wouldn’t we have this energy next season?” he says. “By the start of next season it will have forgotten what we have done, we will have new players and the league itself makes this energy. If you tell me now [next season] tomorrow starts, I’d say, ‘Oh no, please, give me a break.’
“But the moment we start the pre-season with new players and then play against the first opponent and the second, the energy is back. So I’m pretty sure it will be there again for us to try and be a good opponent.”
Guardiola has already been boosted for the next term with the arrival of Erling Haaland, the 21-year-old who has scored 85 goals in 88 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, and is confident he will be an asset despite those wondering if the Norwegian fits into City. style. “I hear he’s not going to adjust to the way we play and I’d like to ask, ‘How’s the way we play?’ I’m pretty sure they don’t know,” Guardiola said.
“I’m pretty sure he’s adapting well. That always happens: players when they’re good – and normally they’re in this kind of club – then they have good energy to see positive things, understand that we want to help them “Our way of playing is actually that simple. I’m pretty sure, but to give you a real opinion, I have to work with him. If he scores his goals, it’s because he’s good.
“It’s especially important that he arrives in a new country, a new house, makes new friends: he has to get used to all those things. Therefore, if he starts here, he should have had a good holiday, well prepared, should have come back here uninjured and started working. Start playing.
“If it takes weeks – fine. If it takes months – great. He hasn’t come here for two or three months, he’s been coming for many years, I hope.
“So if he needs more time, give him more time. We’re trying to help him and I’m pretty sure he’ll try to help us – I have no doubts about that.”