Though his club remains on course for a domestic treble, the manager expects them to become even stronger next season
Manchester City are on the brink of claiming back-to-back Premier League titles, but Pep Guardiola believes they can be even better next season.
City are on course to become the first Premier League side to retain the title since 2008-09, as they sit on 95 points, one clear of Liverpool heading into the final round of matches.
The defending champions travel to Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday, while Liverpool host Wolves, and victory for the Carabao Cup winners will keep alive their hopes of a domestic treble – a feat never before achieved by an English side.
However, Guardiola is demanding even more from his squad in 2019-20.
“Next season we will be stronger, I am sure. We will be stronger. We will be better,” he told a news conference.
“This season we understand what we want to do quicker [compared to last season]. We don’t change too much our patterns, our way we want to play, so that is why everyone is more comfortable in what we want to do, in how we want to defend.
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“I think we attack much better. Teams when they face us that have a low, low block, an incredible low block, that means 11 playing in the box, so how we attack them, we concede not too many counter-attacks, the set-pieces we defend well.
“In general, especially in the Premier League we were so consistent. In the Champions League we were a little bit more vulnerable, for the quality of the opponents and the tension of the desire to do well, but I think that is the process.
“We have done quite similar things to last season, but we repeat every three days so at the end we do many things better.”
City have been pushed all the way by Liverpool in a thrilling title race, but Guardiola insists he will not feel anxious ahead of the final-day showdown with Brighton.
“I am so happy. No nerves at all,” he said. “I was nervous before the Liverpool game [on January 3], seven points behind and we could be 10 points behind. It was ‘Aah’, it will be so difficult. But I’m not nervous now, no way. I sleep like a little boy.
“It is a dream, a privilege. I love it. The whole of England will be watching, probably Europe.”
Either City or Liverpool face finishing as runners-up with a record amount of points, and Guardiola acknowledges his side still have work to do if they are to avoid making unwanted history.
“It is in our hands now,” he said. “We have to deserve to win the game. The players know it. It is not necessary to tell them. Most of the time we played after Liverpool, but it didn’t matter.
“In two months, every game, win or we are out because Liverpool show the quality they have. The way we have played in every action, every defensive set-piece, when we have the ball, every single game it is like this, even if we can play better or worse.
“We have not spoken for two or three days about the Premier League title or back-to-back [titles], or what happens if we lose, about celebrations if we win, zero. It is just about Brighton, how they defend, their strengths and weak points, what we have to do. And on Sunday, ‘Guys, go out and play.’ That is all.”