Guardiola lets City stars why next season will be even harder

Joe Williams

Pep Guardiola has warned his title-winning Manchester City players he will be tougher and demand more from them next season.

The City boss believes taking a stricter approach is the best way to ensure complacency does not set in after a such a dominant campaign.

City’s Premier League crown was secured last weekend with a record-equalling five games to spare but, despite all the plaudits, Guardiola insists his players will have to keep on proving themselves.

He said: “It is what I handled in Barcelona and Bayern Munich – players started to believe what (they) had done was thanks to me, and that allowed them to play in the future. And that is not the truth.

“What we had done we had done, (but) that helped us to (think), ‘We have done it once we can do it again, and the others won’t have more energy.’ So, when you have to do five metres, you just make three.

“But those two metres make a difference. That is why next season will be more difficult, our relationship will be harder.

“It happened in Barcelona and Bayern Munich. I handled that and I know I have to press more.

“I have to be more into them and control more the players – the time they arrive at training sessions, what they have to do with the ball and without the ball. If they don’t, they will be caught out, more than this season. Our relationship will not be so friendly.”

Guardiola insists his “priority absolutely” next season will be to retain the Premier League title, rather than winning the Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

He said: “I would sign right now for what we have done this season next season. Right now. To win the Premier League is the most important title (for the club) to show.

“Believe me, I would dream to play the final of the Champions League, or to win the Champions League. I know how beautiful it is to finish the season with that beautiful trophy.

“But I prefer to have a team every day like a machine – being there, home and away, good conditions or bad conditions.”

City were regarded as genuine Champions League contenders this year, in what was their seventh consecutive season in the competition, but they were eliminated by Liverpool in the quarter-finals.

Guardiola feels City still have much to do to establish themselves on the European stage.

Speaking at a press conference to preview Sunday’s clash with Swansea, Guardiola said: “Maybe I am wrong, but to win the Champions maybe you have to win more Premier Leagues in a row, to get the respect in Europe, (that) you are a top club.

“Of course we are going to try but I don’t know if we are ready as a club, still, to have the power on and off the pitch to get there.”