Long road ahead for City - Jovetic
Published 30/01/2014 | 14:37
Striker Stevan Jovetic kept his jersey from the 5-1 win over Tottenham as a memento of scoring his first top-flight goal, but is not yet prepared to put his shirt on Manchester City winning the Premier League title.
The Blues head into February top of the table and in imperious form but Jovetic and co are prepared for a hard road ahead.
The Montenegrin, who has struggled for playing time since his summer move to the Etihad Stadium until recent weeks, scored in the victory at White Hart Lane which extended City's unbeaten run to 20 matches in all competitions and took them to the top of the league.
They have won 18 games and scored 69 goals in that remarkable run, and so delighted was Jovetic to have scored his first league goal that he had to renege on a promise he made to a supporter before going on as a second-half substitute.
"I was on the bench and he was near to me," he explained.
"He asked me for my shirt but after I scored my first Premier League goal I said I had to take the shirt, so I gave him the pants."
City's recent form has been anything but pants, with Spurs boss Tim Sherwood claiming City are champions-elect.
But Jovetic insists the players are not getting ahead of themselves, especially with a vital game against fellow title challengers Chelsea to come on Monday.
"We were, of course, really happy after beating Tottenham, but we need to stay calm because nothing is finished," he said.
"We need to play so, so many games more, especially the next one against Chelsea. That is going to be a crucial game.
"I hope we will play like we did against Tottenham and that we are going to win.
"I think it was a great, great game. In the first half we played very well but unfortunately we only scored one goal.
"In the second half we scored four more and could have had more. I think that we are a very important group and demonstrated that in all our games. I hope we continue like this.
"At the moment, everything is perfect but we need to stay calm, do our job as we did until now and just like this we can be successful."
You can understand Jovetic remaining cautious after the start to life at City he has had.
Arriving from Fiorentina in a £22million summer deal, the Montenegro international had endured a torrid time due to a succession of injuries and illness.
As a result, the Spurs match was just Jovetic's fourth Premier League appearance but one he marked with a first top-flight goal, complementing efforts by Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure, Edin Dzeko and Vincent Kompany.
"Of course I am happy because I had so many bad things behind me, but I was always positive and believed in myself," the substitute told CityTV.
"I knew I would play well and help the guys. I feel better now. We will see."
The night was one to forget for Tottenham, whose aggregate score across two league meetings with City was an 11-1 defeat.
Having lost 6-0 at the Etihad Stadium in November, they were unable to exact revenge thanks in no small part to Danny Rose's sending-off early in the second half.
Hugo Lloris felt the red card and subsequent penalty was unjust, but accepts that is no excuse for their latest heavy loss.
"We can't accept that, in front of our crowd again," the France captain said.
"It was the case against Liverpool (when Spurs lost 5-0 in December) and we have to have a good reaction in our next game.
"We have to push our level higher all together, and individually make the team stronger. It's difficult to find the words for a game like that.
"We have to be positive because we are still fifth, three points behind Liverpool.
"So it is open. We just need to be focused until the end of the game and I hope in the next big test against a team from the top four we will be better and we will have a good response."