Pep Guardiola explains his mentality shift at Man City amid Liverpool FC pressure

Pep Guardiola says he is a better loser now as Manchester City again aim to hold off the challenge of Liverpool.

City lead their Merseyside rivals by three points with 12 games to go in the Premier League, with neutrals hoping for a repeat of the 2018/19 slugfest that saw the pair duke it out until the final day of the season.

Guardiola would not be in the role that he is if he enjoyed losing, but the coach has been more than satisfied this season with how his players have risen to the challenge of fighting again for the title after so many years together and so much success. Whatever the outcome at the end of the season, the City boss will not change his mind about the group that he has to work with.

On top of that, Guardiola also feels more serene about his role than he did previously. While he may still cut an animated figure on the touchline in certain games, the manager has learned to accept defeat more easily.

“I’ve spoken many times to the players: focus on our job,” he said. “If it is enough to be champions then good, if not then congratulate Liverpool.

“As I get old, I’m learning to enjoy my profession – to be more supportive than ever. I accept the defeats in a more natural way. I don’t like it, because I don’t sleep well after a defeat, but I accept that the other ones can beat you. They can be better than you. You have to improve, that there is still a margin to do better that we are still not doing.

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“I enjoy it. I’m not so dramatic, like: ‘we are going to lose the Premier League.’ What’s the problem? The problem is how you behave and how you are as a team, knowing that we want to win it – we want to do it. When we don’t do our best we will be in trouble, the guys will be in trouble with the manager.”

Guardiola said that his team did not deserve to beat Tottenham at the weekend because of the way they defended, but he was still happy with the overall performance of the team and put the difference down to the quality of Harry Kane.

Just as he has held his hands up to the Spurs striker and PSG superstars earlier this season when they lost in the Champions League, the City boss will do the same for Liverpool. But if he knows that his team can be beaten, Guardiola knows exactly what they have to do to claim victory at the end of the season.

“I don’t have many complaints or regrets about the way we did it [against Spurs],” he said.

“You see the team and say, ‘we were who we are’, in terms of possession, shots. They [Spurs] created because they are good. Sometimes you are attacking, the opponent regains the ball, passes to the striker, they lose the ball.

“In that case, Harry Kane doesn’t lose the ball. He wasn’t involved in the game much but every time was so decisive. Why? Is it our fault? No, it’s because the opponents are good. [Lionel] Messi, Neymar, the Liverpool players: they are good. They can do whatever they want.

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“We have to minimize by doing our job, to bring the game where we are looking forward. It’s not a big issue. I know what we have to do to beat Liverpool: we have to win a lot of games. I didn’t just know that now. I knew it when we were 11 or 12 points ahead and they had two games in hand. I knew it, I felt it. I know the opponents and what can happen.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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