Pep Guardiola looks to Barcelona great Cruyff lessons as Man City plan title charge


Manchester City are five points adrift of Premier League leaders Arsenal, though Pep Guardiola’s side are no strangers to a title charge.

Pep Guardiola referenced “genius” Barcelona mentor Johan Cruyff as the Spaniard detailed the small margins that will dictate the Premier League title race.

Manchester City are five points behind leaders Arsenal, who played more games at the weekend, with Mikel Arteta’s side visiting strugglers Everton and Guardiola’s men traveling to Tottenham.

The reigning Premier League champions are no strangers to a late-season run to push for glory, going 28 games unbeaten and finally beating Liverpool in the title race last term.

City likely have a much tougher task ahead of them, this time to topple Arteta’s in-form Arsenal, but Guardiola says he will take lessons from Dutch great Cruyff in 2023.

He told Sky Sports: “When I was a footballer I won four La Ligas in a row in Spain. I wasn’t the same in the fifth. I wasn’t the same in the sixth. I wasn’t hungry enough.

“Caviar. Madrid beat me. Fifth and sixth. I understand the players. But I’m here to do it.”

“I realized it a little later. It’s hard for players to realize in real time exactly what’s going on.”

“It’s ridiculous how little the difference is between winning and losing. You have to pay attention. I tried to do my best. I never doubt that the players are doing their best.”

“But at the same time, you think, OK, I did it, I won. After that, it takes time to be on top again.

“Johan had many great qualities, but one of them was that he knew exactly how you were going to feel before you felt it, before it happened.

“That’s why he was a genius. He told us, ‘Now it’s going to happen.’ Fortunately or unfortunately, most of the time they do.’

Erling Haaland has scored a remarkable 25 goals in just 19 Premier League appearances since joining City from Borussia Dortmund ahead of this campaign.

But the change in Manchester has brought difficulties, despite the Norway international’s record-breaking performances, with City a very different side from Guardiola’s first winning campaign.

“It happened. We change, everyone changes. It’s normal. Mostly it’s players who decide they want to leave,” he added.

“The club is always open to that. There are other clubs where the release clause is the most important thing. Someone has to pay it or you stay. I don’t agree with that at all.”

“Whenever they are not comfortable working with the manager, the staff, the club, the city, whatever, they have to try to move on.

“Of course there has to be an offer. But if you come up with an offer, I’m pretty sure we can make a deal.

“For example, Gabriel [Jesus], Alex [Oleksandr Zinchenko] and Raheem [Sterling] left this season.

“I couldn’t be more grateful for what they’ve done for me and for this institution, winning 11 trophies in five years. It’s just amazing. Believe me, I wish them the best personally and professionally.

“It’s the same with me when I leave. One day they’ll bring in a new manager with his own passion and his own ideas. Everything will move on.”

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