Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are “not ready” to compete with the best sides in Europe.
City on Saturday maintained their 100 per cent start to the season and life under Guardiola with a 2-1 derby victory at Manchester United.
And the contest saw the Blues, particularly in the first half, once again produce the sort of slick, passing football with which their new manager has for so long been associated.
Guardiola was generally pleased with the way his men played over that 45 minutes as they assumed a 2-0 lead through Kevin De Bruyne and Kelechi Iheanacho before Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s reply just prior to the break.
But he also emphasised that with them not making the most of some openings, City had to “suffer” through a second half in which Jose Mourinho’s United, invigorated by some half-time substitutions, were considerably improved.
City on Tuesday host Borussia Monchengladbach in their first fixture in Champions League Group C, which features also Barcelona, with whom Guardiola won the competition twice as boss.
And the Spaniard, making an assessment that might strike a nerve with Mourinho, said: “Until now, in the Premier League it has been okay – but to compete against the best clubs in Europe, in this moment with the way we are playing, we are not able to.”
As well as the success at Old Trafford, City’s Premier League campaign so far has returned home wins against Sunderland and West Ham either side of a 4-1 victory at Stoke.
There has also been a 6-0 Champions League play-off win on aggregate over Steaua Bucharest.
Guardiola said: “We have played, not all of the games, but part of most of the games at a high level, and of course we have to continue.
“If you ask me whether we are ready to compete in Europe, we are not ready. We create, but in front we need more.
“But, it is just two months together, so we have time to get better.”
Specifically on the display against United, Guardiola said: “The first half was good – our build-up was correct, patient, and we attacked in the right moments.
“But we have had a little bit of a problem in the last few games with the last pass – we make the movements, but the last pass…especially in the second half when Manchester United pushed a lot.
“There was the chance to make counter attacks, and we had many. But, except for one or two from Kevin (De Bruyne, who hit the post in the second half), we didn’t finish.
“It happened similarly against Stoke and West Ham – when the game is open, which is typical here in England, if you don’t finish those actions you are going to suffer until the end.
“Today we were lucky – maybe one day we will not be lucky.
“But overall, it is a big compliment for the performance, because I know how difficult it is to come here and play as we did, especially in the first half.”
De Bruyne – who opened the scoring in the 15th minute with a slotted finish, then saw his shot off the post in the 36th tee up Iheanacho – has emphasised how City had to battle to see out the victory.
“In the first half we were excellent but it was hard for us after they scored the goal,” said the Belgium international, quoted by www.mancity.com.
“It was difficult, especially in the second half, because they were much stronger physically and in the air but I think we coped well and we had the chances to get the third in the second half.
“It was a fight until the end and we’re very happy to get the win.”