Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City will retain the Premier League title if they maintain their current level of performance. The treble winners have been held to draws in their last three games at the hands of Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham.
Yet in a strong message to rivals and any doubters, Guardiola has insisted his players are not lacking any hunger as they chase a fourth successive league crown.
Guardiola name-checked a number of prominent football pundits, including former Manchester United defender Gary Neville and former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher, as he insisted there was no complacency within his squad.
The City manager said: “I have a feeling that if we maintain that level, we’ll win the Premier League. We will win it again.
“If we (could) maintain the level of Liverpool and Tottenham, I’ll sign for it right now. We didn’t win 5-0 – we drew – but I’d sign right now (for) my team (to) behave the way we’ve played the last two games.
“I don’t know if we can sustain that all season and that is the challenge.
“I don’t have anything to say about the pundits. Maybe I’m wrong but I don’t think it’s about complacency. I know the players, I know how they run. How we behave is extraordinary.
“He knows how difficult it is otherwise Gary Neville would’ve won four Premier Leagues in the best period of Manchester United. But he didn’t do it.
“I see my team, how they fight, how they press, how they continue until the end and how upset they are after we concede.
“Maybe, maybe I’m wrong and they are seeing everything that I’m not able to see, but I don’t have that feeling.
“Jamie Carragher didn’t win one (league title). Micah Richards didn’t win four Premier Leagues in a row. Never, ever.”
Guardiola has also defended the conduct of his team after the stormy end to Sunday’s 3-3 draw with Spurs.
A number of players surrounded referee Simon Hooper in protest when Erling Haaland was denied the chance to play advantage after being fouled.
Haaland had quickly got up from a bad tackle to play a through-ball for Jack Grealish which could have led to a stoppage-time City winner.
City have been charged with failing to control their players over the incident by the Football Association.
“I would like to know how the reaction should be when that last action happened,” Guardiola said.
“We didn’t lose because of that action, maybe Jack wouldn’t have scored.
“But I would like to know from the Premier League or whoever, how should we react in that situation? We want to be there, we want to compete against the top sides. It’s a human instinct.
“Right now the players would not react in that way, but in that moment someone tell me. They want to fine (us), we’ll be fined. It’s fine, but I promise you, if you are a footballer and it happened, you would react in that way.
“It happened 20 years ago, 40 years ago. It will happen in 40 years. Of course you have to respect the referees. Tell me one player or manager who doesn’t respect the referees, but it is emotions. It is feelings.”