Another title would put City alongside Ferguson’s United, says Guardiola

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If Manchester City beat Aston Villa on Sunday and claim a fourth title in five years, Pep Guardiola believes they will touch the greatness of Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United. Only the Scot’s side have achieved the feat in the Premier League era – three times – and Guardiola has no doubts about where it will place his team if they can do it for the first time.

“It will be great, of course it will be great,” City’s manager says of the potential feat. “When I arrived, the people here said the Premier League is so difficult, it is the toughest one. Everyone wins, different ones [teams], just Sir Alex Ferguson with United was able to win three or four championships, four in five years. So when this happened, you realise the magnitude of this United in this period that was able to do it many, many times.

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“We are close to do it or be part of that, and we have to try to take it. What it means – I would say how good it is. Being in this position, close, we are going to try to do it. We are here as a consequence of what happened in the past [too] – a lot of work went on in the first season when we didn’t win.”

Beat Villa and Liverpool, who play at home to Wolves, cannot catch City. A relaxed Guardiola, who may have Kyle Walker and John Stones back from injury, suggested that even United fans will want City to prevail, preventing their fierce rivals claiming what would be a 20th title, matching their record total.

“So United likes City more than Liverpool? Is it true? So I was wrong when I said everyone wants Liverpool in this country. Welcome [I say to United fans]. Welcome. If they want to join us in the street [to celebrate]. But they have to wear the blue shirt. They have to wear it.”

Guardiola has been at City since the summer of 2016 and many players joined then or a season or two later. Yet despite this timespan and its attritional nature he has no doubts City will be as energised next term whatever occurs on Sunday.

Erling Haaland playing for Borussia Dortmund.
Manchester City will welcome Erling Haaland next season. Photograph: DeFodi Images/Getty Images

“If we had this energy this season and the previous seasons why should we not have this energy next season?” he says. “At the start of next season it will be forgotten what we have done, we will have new players, and the competition itself makes this energy. If you tell me now it [next season] starts tomorrow, I’d say: ‘Oh no, please, give me a break.’

“But the moment we start the pre-season, with new players and then play the first opponent and the second one, the energy is back. So I’m pretty sure it will be there again for us to try and be a good opponent.”

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Guardiola has already been boosted for next term by the signing of Erling Haaland, the 21-year-old who has scored 85 goals in 88 appearances for Borussia Dortmund, and is confident he will be an asset despite those querying if the Norwegian will fit City’s style. “I hear he’s not going to adapt to the way we play and I would like to ask: ‘How is the way we play?’ I’m pretty sure they don’t know it,” says Guardiola.

“I’m pretty sure he adapts well. Always that happens: players when they are good – and normally they are in these type of clubs – then they have good energy to see positives, understand we want to help them. Our way to play is so simple, really. I’m pretty sure but to give you a real opinion I have to work with him. When he scores his amount of goals it’s because he’s good.

“Especially important is that he is arriving in a new country, new house, making new friends: all these kinds of things he has to adjust to. That’s why when he starts here he should have had a good holiday, prepared well, come back here with no injuries and start to work. Start to play.

“If it takes weeks – great. If it takes months – great. He hasn’t come here for two, three months, he’s come for many years, I hope.

“So if he needs more time, give him more time. We try to help him and I’m pretty sure he’ll try to help us – I don’t have any doubts about that.”

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