Kevin De Bruyne is relishing Pep Guardiola’s attacking style as Manchester City look to move on from a “very difficult” year.
Signed to much fanfare as last season was getting under way, the 25-year-old quickly went about justifying the club’s £54million outlay.
De Bruyne shone as Manuel Pellegrini’s side reached the Champions League semi-finals, but they fell short in the Premier League and only just pipped Manchester United to fourth spot.
The cross-city rivals went head-to-head on Saturday for the first time since Guardiola arrived at the Etihad Stadium, with the City boss overcoming old foe and fellow new boy Jose Mourinho 2-1 in an enthralling contest at Old Trafford.
It was a close battle, but City’s majestic first half proved the difference, with De Bruyne opening the scoring and hitting the shot that rebounded off a post for Kelechi Iheanacho to tap home a second.
The Belgian man-of-the-match wants to replicate that early dominance and continue City’s 100 per cent start to life under Guardiola.
“Football isn’t easy,” he said when asked if the Spaniard’s style was difficult.
“Obviously everybody has his own style and you need to adapt to it, but I think everyone is working really hard – even the guys coming in, they do it perfectly.
“At the moment it is very positive, so we just have to try to keep it in this flow.
“I think maybe for some guys it is a new beginning. Last year was very difficult with all the injuries and maybe personal… I don’t know what happened last year, it’s just a different season. It happens.
“Everybody came back from the Euros and had some time to relax and just re-focus.
“Sometimes it’s important to have enough rest to get back and want to play really well.”
De Bruyne is enjoying his central role – “I think in this system for me it is the best thing,” he said – and believes everyone is pulling their weight, highlighting that if one or two switch off it will be hard to maintain Guardiola’s collective standard.
The Belgian expects Premier League teams to adapt, but pledged to keep finding space – something his vision, accuracy and ability makes him ideally suited to.
“Last year for me was great,” De Bruyne said, reflecting on his start to life at City.
“Obviously we had some slip-ups here and there, but overall I had a good year. I am just trying to build on it.
“I think that the way we try to play now is very enjoyable, especially for the attacking players, because we try to play nice football, the way we wanted to play.
“We have got to go a little bit away from the physical game in the Premier League because we are not as strong as other teams, we know that, so we try to dominate them the way we want to play.”