Pep Guardiola confident in Man City’s Premier League victory, criticizes Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher in passionate defense against ‘complacency’ accusations

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Pep Guardiola launched into an extraordinary six-and-a-half-minute monologue on Tuesday, defending his Manchester City players, claiming they will make history this season and skewering accusations of complacency.

City visit Aston Villa on Wednesday on the back of conceding eight goals in three straight draws — their worst run in the Premier League since 2017. They head to Villa without the suspended Rodri and Jack Grealish, and their shining light this season Jeremy Doku is missing through injury. It leaves Guardiola needing to rejig his midfield for one of the season’s toughest away assignments.

Despite that, recent performances have convinced the Catalan to declare that they will win an unprecedented fourth consecutive league title. 

And the fired-up City boss, who has pored over criticism of his team since the dramatic 3-3 draw against Tottenham on Sunday, was happy to take aim at three Sky Sports pundits, former City defender Micah Richards, Jamie Carragher and particularly Gary Neville, who suggested that they are suffering from complacency after last year’s Treble.

‘Gary Neville knows how difficult it is otherwise he would’ve won four Premier Leagues in the best period of Manchester United,’ Guardiola said. ‘But he didn’t do it. Maybe they accuse us of complacency because they felt complacency (at United). Maybe they felt it. This team so far, no chance.

Pep Guardiola launched an astonishing six-and-a-half-minute defence of his Man City stars

City were accused of complacency after the draw with Spurs, which was their third in a row

City were accused of complacency after the draw with Spurs, which was their third in a row

Guardiola hit out at Gary Neville and said he didn't win four titles as United were complacent

Guardiola hit out at Gary Neville and said he didn’t win four titles as United were complacent 

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‘Jamie Carragher didn’t win one (title). Micah Richards didn’t win four Premier Leagues in a row. Never, ever. It’s never happened.

‘I don’t have anything to say about the pundits, honestly. It’s not about that (complacency). 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. I have a feeling that if we maintain that level, we’ll win the Premier League. We will win it again.

‘How we’ve done doesn’t give me the feeling that we’re saying, “Look how good we are” or we play a little bit naive or play like we don’t respect the opponents. Not at all.’

City drew 4-4 at Chelsea in one of the all-time great league encounters before giving up a lead late on against Liverpool last month. In all three draws, City have conceded equalisers in the last 10 minutes.

Even if they are rarely giving up huge chances, Guardiola knows that defensively they must improve against a Villa team who have won all six home matches this term. But he believes the reaction to City’s blip has been overboard.

‘When you drop points, people say, “OK you drop points, against Liverpool, Chelsea and Tottenham — what a disaster”. It’s Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham — what do people expect?’ he asked. ‘That we get 120 points and be 20 points in front?

‘Many times I have listened over seven years. If we don’t win it’s complacency. If we lose semi-finals, we don’t have character.

‘Of course, our behaviour in some moments, after winning the Treble and three leagues in a row… you need sometimes to defend a cross more aggressively. They are the little details.

‘But if we maintain the level of Liverpool and Tottenham, I’ll sign for it right now if we can maintain that every single game. We didn’t win 5-0, we drew. But I’d sign right now, my team behaving the way we’ve played the last two games. Against Tottenham, the chances we had, what can I say?

‘I’m pretty sure we are not going to win for the next decade, 10 leagues in a row. I’m optimistic but not an idiot. This is not going to happen. We are quite stable, create more chances, concede fewer than the opponents. We’re on a good path. And normally I still have the feeling — maybe I’m wrong — that we have more chances to score goals than the opponents.’ 

Guardiola then made the bold prediction that City would win the Premier League this season

Guardiola then made the bold prediction that City would win the Premier League this season

Jamie Carragher also received the wrath of the Spaniard

As did Micah Richards, who criticised City on Sunday

Jamie Carragher (left) and Micah Richards (right) also received the wrath of the Spaniard

Guardiola was also asked about his comments concerning Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta on Sunday when he refused to criticise referee Simon Hooper over his controversial decision to blow the whistle with Grealish clean through against Spurs in the last minute.

‘I will not do an Arteta,’ Guardiola had said pointing towards his ex-assistant’s evisceration of officiating at Newcastle a few weeks ago.

Yesterday Guardiola said: ‘People say, “Ah you want to make a dig to Mikel”. I didn’t want to make a dig to Mikel. It was a little joke, maybe people didn’t get it. If I want to say something to Mikel I call him, we spoke to each other one week ago.

‘Mind games? Mind games is to play better than the opponents.’

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