Defiant Guardiola insists City have been the team of the decade
Pep Guardiola has taken aim at Manchester City's critics by hailing the club as the pre-eminent force in English football over the past decade - even if they need a "prayer" to overhaul Liverpool in this season's title race.
The City manager's side are 14 points behind Jurgen Klopp's, and he cited injuries and video assistant referee decisions (VAR) as key factors in why the balance of power has shifted this term. But, heading into the 2020s, the Spaniard is unequivocal about which club has dominated in the last 10 years.
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"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," said Guardiola.
"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.
"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.
"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 and bigger stuff."
City's trophy haul of 13 in the 2010s is, indeed, the best in England and started shortly after the club's Abu Dhabi owners took control.
Heading into the new decade, Guardiola is involved in three cup competitions, but has virtually written off the title after "things we cannot control".
City players have been upset with the application of VAR in some of their games, and when asked if the review process was one of the causes out of City's control, Guardiola said: "You know what they are. You know that."
One of the most contentious VAR decisions was in the second week of the season when a goal was chalked off for Aymeric Laporte's handball against Tottenham, which would have been a winner.
City were denied a penalty when Trent Alexander-Arnold appeared to handle and Liverpool took the lead shortly afterwards. And against Manchester United they also felt a penalty should have been given for a Fred handball.
"Work harder, play better, and pray," was Guardiola's answer to closing the gap on Liverpool.
"Our squad is capable, but there are things we cannot control, there are other issues 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."
Guardiola is refusing to rule out a January signing should the right player become available, as it did when Laporte arrived two years ago.
But he has dismissed suggestions that only adding Joao Cancelo and Rodri as senior players to the squad has been a part of the reason for the struggle to defend their title.
"I never say never," Guardiola said. "Hopefully we will not have 25 injuries in the next two games, so maybe we have to buy, but maybe two or three players might want to leave in the transfer window.
"The team and the players and the club get money and after we can invest. But we couldn't invest in summer so why can we do it three or four months later? It makes no sense.
"Any top team with important players out for six or seven months can suffer a little bit.
"It's normal. The manager is good when you have good players and the other is bulls***.
"We struggle sometimes, but in general our game was good. I know what happens after the team win a lot like us in the last two seasons, but still we are there so we are not far, far away."
Guardiola believes the club, who are third in the table and play Everton at the Etihad Stadium today, have the foundations to stay at the top in the English football.
"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 said.
"Hopefully in the next decade this club can be here for more time.
"We are talking about that and we know exactly more or less what we have to do next season." (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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