It was an unnecessary comment. The Premier League would almost certainly prefer a close title race to a procession. But it is not the league’s fault that City has come up short this season. Guardiola should be focusing on how he can close the gap next term.
A one-horse race
There is, of course, still plenty to play for before 2020/21 rolls around. City will not win a third consecutive championship this season. But they will contest the League Cup final later this month. They are the bookmakers’ favorites to win the FA Cup. And although he would never admit it, Guardiola would have been happy to forgo the Premier League title if it meant winning the Champions League this campaign.
Nevertheless, Guardiola will almost certainly already have half an eye on the summer. City went into this season as reigning champions. Yet they are currently on track to finish 33 points behind Liverpool. That is a staggering margin. After all, Jurgen Klopp’s side trailed City by just a point after 38 games last time out.
There is plenty of work for Guardiola to do. It will be fascinating to see how he responds. The Catalan is one of the world’s best managers. But he is currently in uncharted territory.
Guardiola’s Europe-wide dominance
In his 10 full seasons as a manager, Guardiola has won eight league titles. That is a phenomenal record.
The Catalan won three La Liga crowns in his first three years at the helm of Barcelona. And although he failed to make it four in a row in 2011/12, Guardiola had already decided to depart the Camp Nou at the end of the campaign. At Bayern Munich, he won three Bundesligas out of three.
Guardiola did not get off to the perfect start in English football. His City side finished third in 2016/17, 15 points behind champions Chelsea. But Guardiola still had plenty of time to put things right.
That is exactly what he did. City set a new all-time points record when they amassed 100 in 2017/18. Last term they accumulated 98 to hold off Liverpool and become the first team to retain the Premier League title in a decade.
Guardiola enters the unknown
All of which means Guardiola is now in an unfamiliar position. The Manchester City manager will be out of contract in the summer of 2021. He has not ruled out signing an extension. But his managerial history to date suggests next season will be his last at the Etihad Stadium.
Guardiola therefore faces the very real – and unprecedented – prospect of failing to win a league title for two seasons on the bounce. That would be a blow to his legacy at City, especially if he is unable to lead the club to Champions League glory.
Guardiola will no doubt strengthen his squad in the summer transfer market. A new center-back is a must. He may also look for additions at left-back, in midfield and on the flanks.
City cannot win the Premier League title this season. Guardiola must ensure they are better equipped to do so next time out.