Soccer

We’ve lived like a cat – Pep Guardiola says Manchester City needed reality check

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (Martin Rickett/PA)
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (Martin Rickett/PA) Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola (Martin Rickett/PA)

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes the club’s recent slump has delivered a much-needed reality check.

Guardiola says he and his treble-winning players have enjoyed being stroked “like a cat” for too long after their recent successes and it was time they were given a shake.

City were not only beaten but outplayed at Aston Villa on Wednesday – a result which extended their winless run in the Premier League to four games and saw them slip to fourth in the table.

“As a manager I sometimes need that, I need that challenge,” said Guardiola at a press conference to preview Sunday’s game at Luton.

“I think for everyone it is good. I think it’s necessary to live that.

“For a long time, we’ve lived like a cat (strokes head) and (known) how good we are.

“We need it to say: ‘Guys this business – it’s terrible’. You are unbeatable and then, oh my God, you cannot win one game – from nothing.

“Maybe for myself first, I need that challenge to prove myself, that I’m a good manager, to help the players overcome that situation.

“For the players it’s a good challenge to say: ‘Aston Villa were miles better than all of us, so imagine the other ones’.

“The club, all the organisation, (know) we can be out of the Champions League next season, so we have to work hard. As soon as we realise (it) we come out of here quicker.

“The club needed it. One month ago I thought the club needed a shake, to be shaken. The bad results can help you to live that.”

Guardiola, however, was quick to dismiss suggestions of complacency within his squad, insisting standards remain high.

He said: “It’s not about complacency. Complacency is arriving late to training, not training good, not doing a good job, it not mattering what happens.

“I’m talking just about bad results. Bad results help you to understand. When you lose games, it is necessary. It’s necessary to live that.

“After, (you) make a step forward. It’s the only way.”

City will have influential midfielder Rodri back at Kenilworth Road after he completed his latest ban. The Spaniard has now missed four games through suspension this season and Guardiola’s side have lost them all.

Guardiola again overlooked the credentials of Kalvin Phillips when selecting his side at Villa Park, fuelling further speculation the England midfielder could leave the club in January.

Phillips has failed to establish himself at the Etihad Stadium since his move from Leeds in the summer of 2022.

Kalvin Phillips, centre, has struggled to make an impact at Manchester City
Kalvin Phillips, centre, has struggled to make an impact at Manchester City Kalvin Phillips (centre) has struggled to make an impact at Manchester City (Nick Potts/PA)

Guardiola said: “I don’t know what will happen. I feel so sorry for my decisions for him. He doesn’t deserve for one second not to have minutes but it’s just that I visualise things and struggle a little to see him.”

Kevin De Bruyne, who has been out since undergoing hamstring surgery in August, has been named in City’s squad for the Club World Cup later this month but it is not yet clear if he will be fit to play.

Guardiola said: “Maybe it is a little bit early, but I don’t know.”