MANCHESTER, United Kingdom, Dec 3 – Pep Guardiola says landmark early-season wins infused his Manchester City stars with the belief that they could beat all-comers but warned that his Premier League high-fliers they have won nothing yet.
The City boss, whose team host West Ham on Sunday, believes four victories in particular gave his players an injection of confidence.
“Winning against Liverpool at home, winning at Stamford Bridge (Chelsea), winning against Napoli, against Shakhtar at home, they’re both complicated teams,” he said.
“Confidence — you can’t just say it, ‘oh, now you have to be confident’. It doesn’t work like that. They have to see it and believe it. You have to feel it — ‘OK, we can do it’.
“The captain, Vincent (Kompany), said ‘we now have the feeling wherever we go we are able to win’. That is the first step to arrive at the end of competitions to fight to win the title.”
Guardiola, 46, has earned a reputation for talking up opponents, regardless of how modest they appear on paper. Already this season he has described Napoli as the best team in Europe and claimed Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk were one of the continent’s best sides.
He says that it is not simply a case of mind games but a genuine respect for every side he faces.
“These kind of things happen in Barcelona,” said Guardiola. “I was asked many times about that when we have good results.
“I speak well about the opponents and people say ‘Pep has false humility. He’s a liar. He’s saying something he doesn’t believe’. I can’t think it’s already done, or it’ll be easy. I think it’s ridiculous.
“We have to respect them and the best respect to them is to be serious and play the strongest team possible. That’s why we’ve done that in the last period.”
Guardiola has made the best start to a season in his managerial career, which also includes hugely successful spells in charge of Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
But while he is clearly delighted with his players’ efforts to date, he is predictably playing down talk of setting records and winning trophies, despite a 12-match winning streak in the Premier League.
“We cannot deny I am so satisfied with the previous results, but there are more than 70 points to play,” he said. “We have to more than double the points to be champions.
“Barcelona and Bayern Munich won a lot of titles and prizes before me, during my management and after,” he said.
“Here we have broken a lot of records, but that’s good for us. The club doesn’t have the history (of winning titles).”
“It doesn’t count much for the title but it counts for the way we play — in the good moments we win comfortably, in the bad moments we keep going and keep our faith to try to do it,” he said.