Former Manchester City midfielder Stephen Ireland believes this season has been an “eye-opener” for his old side, but cannot see them being as far behind Liverpool next year.
City relinquished their Premier League title to Liverpool last week after losing to Chelsea. That result made Liverpool’s lead at the top of the table insurmountable.
The season before, City had dominated domestically, winning the league, FA Cup, EFL Cup and Community Shield. However, despite impressing in cups again, they have been unable to replicate that form in the league this season.
And Ireland, who came through City’s academy and played for them for five seasons, thinks his old club have a lot of work to do over the summer to catch up – but they won’t fall as short again next time.
He told Sky Sports: “Man City, I guess it’s a bit of a rebuilding year. David Silva’s on his way out, Vincent Kompany left, didn’t quite replace him.
“It’s a bit of an eye-opener, just how much work has to be done now throughout the summer period. As Liverpool are pushing on, that gap’s getting bigger and bigger and bigger.
“Man City just struggled to start clawing it back.
“I can’t see the gap being this big again next year. I don’t think Guardiola will be able to allow that to happen. I think the players won’t.
“I think it’s been a bit of a lesson for everybody.”
GUARD OF HONOUR QUESTIONED
City will go head-to-head with the club that have dethroned them as Premier League champions, Liverpool, in their next game.
But despite Pep Guardiola insisting Jurgen Klopp’s men are deserving champions, one former Liverpool midfielder has questioned the guard of honour that will be given to the Reds at the Etihad Stadium.
Danny Murphy told talkSPORT: “It’s a perception of respect, ‘the right thing to do’. The message you’re trying to send to the football world that when somebody wins, that you show respect and grace.
“The fact City will be doing it on Thursday will show humility, saying ‘well done’ to Liverpool and appreciation for their quality… I think it’s a load of nonsense!
“I don’t know where it started and why it started, I would feel uncomfortable doing it.”