The Manchester City Pep Guardiola has said that his side’s crosstown rivals Manchester United have “incredible talent” and refused to rule out a title-threatening resurgence from them.
Speaking ahead of this Sunday’s Manchester Derby, which will see his home side start as heavy favourites and their old foes arrive having been priced up at their biggest ever odds to win a Premier League game due to their travails this term, Guardiola was keen to avoid complacency.
“We have to play good. If we play good, we have a chance to win,” he said.
Jose Mourinho’s side have come from behind to win in their last three of their last three games in all competitions, including when scoring twice late in Turin to defeat Juventus in Champions League action last time, and the City boss was cognisant of that.
“They just need 10 or 15 minutes to create chance,” he said. “When they have the ball, they can create something because they have incredible talent.”
Asked if the league’s seventh-placed side are out of the title conversation at this early stage, Guardiola was definitive.
“They are not out of the title race, no way. It is impossible in November. They have recovered well in tough games like being 2-0 down against Newcastle. They are a big club with a big club mentality ... in March and April, that is another issue but football changes in a few weeks.”
The fallout from the revelations contained in the Football Leaks release of documents related to the club’s financial and organisational affairs was touched upon, too, with Guardiola sticking to his lines from earlier in the week, citing reassurances from his bosses. “If we were wrong, we will accept but I hear what my club said to me and I accept them.”
A bit of levity was brought to proceedings when Pep responded to a question about comments by the Brazilian Dani Alves, who has said that being coached by the Catalan was “better than sex”.
“I prefer the sex,” he snapped back.