Guardiola looks to Barcelona great Cruyff lessons as Man City plan title charge

Getty Images

Pep Guardiola referenced "genius" Barcelona mentor Johan Cruyff as the Spaniard detailed the small margins that will dictate the Premier League title race.

Manchester City sit five points behind top-flight leaders Arsenal, having played a game more on the weekend where Mikel Arteta's side visit strugglers Everton and Guardiola's men travel to Tottenham.

The reigning Premier League champions are no strangers to a late-season run to propel to glory, going unbeaten in 28 games to eventually overcome Liverpool in the title race last term.

City have arguably a much more daunting task at hand, having to overthrow Arteta's in-form Arsenal this time, but Guardiola says he will use lessons from Netherlands great Cruyff in 2023.

He told Sky Sports: "I won four La Ligas in a row in Spain when I was a football player. In the fifth I was not the same. In the sixth I was not the same. I was not starving enough.

"Caviar. Madrid beat me. The fifth and the sixth. I understand the players. But I am here to do it.

"I realised a little bit later. It is difficult for a player to realise in real time exactly what is happening.

"It is ridiculous how small the margin is between winning and losing. You have to pay attention. I tried to do my best. I never doubt that players do their best.

"But at the same time you think, 'OK, I have done it, I have won.' After, to be on top again, it takes time.

"Johan had many great attributes but one of them was that he knew exactly how you were going to feel before you felt it, before it happened.

"That is why he was a genius. He would tell us, 'Now this will happen.' Fortunately or unfortunately, most of the time it did."

Erling Haaland has hit a remarkable 25 goals in just 19 Premier League appearances since joining City from Borussia Dortmund ahead of this campaign.

But change in Manchester has brought difficulties, despite the Norway international's record-breaking exploits, with City an entirely different side to the first title-winning campaign under Guardiola.

"It has happened. We change, everyone changes. It is normal. Most of the time it is the players who decide they want to leave," he added.

"The club is always open to do it. There are other clubs where the release clause is the most important. Someone has to pay it or you stay. I completely disagree with that.

"Always, when they are not comfortable working with the manager, the staff, the club, the city, whatever, they have to try to move on.

"Of course, there has to be an offer. But if you come with an offer, I am pretty sure we are going to reach an agreement.

"For example, Gabriel [Jesus], Alex [Oleksandr Zinchenko] and Raheem [Sterling] have gone this season.

"I could not be more grateful for what they have done for me and for this institution, winning 11 trophies in five years. It is just amazing. Believe me, I wish the best for them personally and professionally.

"It is the same with me when I leave. One day they are going to bring in a new manager with his own passion and his own ideas. Everything is going to move on."