Ilkay Gündogan says Manchester City need to be much more consistent this season if they are going to challenge for another Premier League title.
City were left behind by Liverpool’s unstoppable surge to an early crown last season, whereas the season before Gündogan and his teammates faced down Liverpool’s remarkable 97-point haul by managing to finish on 98. That meant City were champions despite losing four games to their rivals’ one, and the German midfielder believes his club should aim for that sort of reliability.
“Last season we scored the most goals and Ederson got the Golden Glove for most clean sheets, but we still need to improve because we lost too many games,” Gündogan said as he prepared for Monday’s opening game of the new campaign at Wolves.
“Some games we would win comfortably, then in others we would make a mistake or not finish our chances and lose. It is impossible to win every game but what you can do is try to learn from your defeats. We have to try to be more consistent in all the games. It is hard to rack up 100 points or 98 points every single year, but if we want to be challenging for all the titles again this season we have to be closer to that sort of standard.
“We shouldn’t be looking to completely change the way we do things, because we have a certain way of playing that has worked well for us in the past, but there are small things we can improve on if we want a better season than last year.”
Gündogan turns 30 next month and will soon have played more games for City than he did for Borussia Dortmund, despite not always getting a starting role under Pep Guardiola. With David Silva having left he is now among the senior professionals at the Etihad and providing leadership by example on and off the pitch is a responsibility he enjoys. “That is part of my role now,” he said.“It does remind you that you are getting older, but I’ve been where our younger players are now and I was always glad of help and advice from more senior players. There are a few of us who have been here for a number of years now, Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Agüero and Raheem Sterling, and it’s natural that the younger players take their lead from the older ones, not just on the pitch but in the way you train and conduct yourself.
“People can learn a lot from the example of others, that’s why it was strange not seeing the same people every day during the period of lockdown. We are all very close at this club, not just the players but the backroom staff too, and although I got used to working alone in lockdown it was great when we could see everyone back again.
“We are the last team to start the present season but I think it was important to have the extra week of preparation. We know it will be tricky at Wolves because they have made a good start, but now it is up to us to start as well as we can.”