MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Sep 13- A flying start to life in English football might suggest otherwise, but Pep Guardiola has warned that Manchester City aren’t yet good enough to win the Champions League, or even Premier League, this season.
The Spaniard’s six straight victories have brought 17 goals, culminating in a hugely impressive win over his old rival Jose Mourinho in the Manchester derby at the weekend.
However, going into Tuesday night’s Champions League Group C opener against Borussia Monchengladbach at the Etihad, Guardiola sees plenty of room for improvement before City can be considered serious contenders at home and abroad.
“To take it to the next level we have to improve a lot. Of course, we are so happy with the results and the way we are playing after two months. But it is not enough to win the Premier League or the big targets in the Champions League.”
“Now, after four games in the Premier League, I would like to tell our fans that we may be first with the way we have played up until now, but it will not be enough to win the title. So we have to improve.”
Such a demanding nature explains why Guardiola has reached at least the semi-finals of the Champions League in each of his seven years as a coach.
Expectations are high after City spent £170million strengthening a team that reached the final four for the first time last season.
However, Guardiola failed to add to his two European Cup triumphs with Barcelona during three years at Bayern Munich, and he admits that it will be even harder to take City to the next level.
“It was a pleasure to be coach of Barcelona and Bayern, and with their history they are used to reaching semis and finals,” he added.
‘Manchester City don’t have that. Roberto Mancini helped us achieve the first step and Manuel Pellegrini did a really good job to reach the semi-finals. To take it to the next level we have to improve a lot.”
“When you have been (in the semis) five, six, seven years, then one year you achieve the final. If people are asking me to win the Champions League here with Manchester City, I really have to be a very good coach. I will try but the history is the history. The people believe I failed in my process in Bayern Munich because I didn’t win the Champions League. I have to accept that.”
With their next two group games away to Celtic and his old club Barca, the 45-year-old is aware of the need to get off to a winning start against Monchengladbach.
Sergio Aguero — serving a three-match ban in domestic football — will return to lead the line on Tuesday night.
Pellegrini’s City beat the Germans home and away in last year’s group stage, but Guardiola failed to do so in the Bundesliga in his last four attempts as Bayern boss.
“They beat me many times and they are aggressive. They bring the game one against one and when that happens, it is a fight man to man. They are a brave team with a brave coach (Andre Schubert), one of the best teams in Europe.”
Guardiola is refusing to compromise on his principles and will continue to ask new keeper Claudio Bravo to pass the ball out from the back. The Chilean was fortunate not to concede a penalty for a two-footed challenge on Wayne Rooney after losing control of the ball on his debut at Old Trafford.
But Guardiola said: “Whether it is Claudio, Willy (Caballero) or Angus (Gunn), they are going to make mistakes in the future and the opponents are going to score goals, I am pretty sure of that. I am not a romantic. But I try to convince my players to keep the ball in the Champions League, League Cup, Bundesliga or friendlies because that is the best way to win games.”
-Sterling hits form-
Guardiola has certainly got the best out of Raheem Sterling, who is rebuilding his confidence after an indifferent first season at City and a miserable Euro 2016 with England.
A call from his new manager this summer was ‘a massive boost’, and Sterling also revealed he has learned to ignore his critics on social media. ‘I block that out and play football,’ he said.
“Before, every time you take a stroll, you’d be on your phone, on your app, being nosy to see what people are saying when you see your name. Now I simply leave it alone.”