Guardiola: We can’t improve on last season
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City cannot top last season’s successes, even if they win the Champions League.
City last year became the first English club to win the domestic treble as they claimed the Premier League, FA Cup and Carabao Cup.
This term the Premier League seems beyond them, due to Liverpool’s brilliance, but on Sunday they beat Aston Villa 2-1 to secure a third successive League Cup. With the Champions League and FA Cup still within reach it could yet be another glorious, silverware-laden season.
Certainly winning Europe’s elite competition for the first time would be a historic achievement – and City lead Real Madrid midway through their last-16 tie – but Guardiola insists the league was always his priority.
“I think the most beautiful one is the Premier League and we are not going to win that, so it can’t be better,” said Guardiola of his side’s campaign.
“Always I think the Premier League or La Liga, the domestic title, is the most difficult and most important because it means every single day that you have been consistent.
“I think we were consistent enough. I would say we have the numbers that could win a normal Premier League but I think it (Liverpool’s standard) was exceptional.
“Now we have the Premier League to finish second and, of course, we have the FA Cup and the second leg against Real Madrid in the Champions League.”
City were made to work hard for their latest triumph as Villa dug deep at Wembley. Goals from Sergio Aguero and Rodri in the first half-hour suggested a comfortable afternoon for City but Villa replied before the break through Mbwana Samatta after John Stones slipped.
The second half was far more competitive and it needed a fine save from Claudio Bravo, tipping a Bjorn Engels header onto the post late on, to clinch victory.
Teenager Phil Foden shone on his first appearance for a month and was named man of the match. Setting up Aguero’s goal with a fine nod down was his most eye-catching contribution.
“It doesn’t get much better than that to be honest,” said Foden. “I found out the day before the game and I just couldn’t wait to play on a special occasion. I’m really over the moon to help the team and get the result today.
“I have always dreamed of playing on this stage as a kid. I just want to make the most of it and it didn’t go too badly, which I am happy about.”
City have now won 11 major trophies since their takeover by Sheikh Mansour in 2008. Six of them have come under Guardiola, who also points out that when Community Shields are included, City have won eight of the last 11 available.
Foden said: “It is an unbelievable record to have. We just keep winning trophies and that is the standard we set because we are such a massive club and we try to win every trophy we can get.
“Hopefully we’ll win a few more trophies and try to make it a good year overall.”