Manchester City have ‘fake lead’ in title race, warns Pep Guardiola


Pep Guardiola said Manchester City will have to take close to maximum points from their remaining 10 games of the season to retain the title following their 4-1 victory over Manchester United on Sunday.

City led 2-1 at the interval before United suffered a second-half capitulation, though their interim manager, Ralf Rangnick, denied his players lack the requisite fight.

Guardiola’s team won via two goals apiece from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez, with Jadon Sancho scoring for United. City are on 69 points, six ahead of Liverpool who have a match in hand, with their goal difference 50 to the Merseyside club’s 51.

“We are trying to win the Premier League with 10 games left,” said Guardiola. “We have to make [claim]almost all the points to be champions. I have the feeling many things are going to happen until the end of the season – tight games are going to happen.

“We are six points ahead but this is a fake lead as they have one more game to play. My dream is to be there until the end [of the race].”

Regarding United’s second-half display, Rangnick was asked if his players have enough fight in them. “Yes,” he said. “ I didn’t have the impression that they didn’t try but it is difficult against a team like Manchester City when you are 3-1 down against the best team probably in possession on the planet.

“We played a good first half but we were still 2-1 down so it was clear we still had to try and score one or two goals to have a chance to win the game. We didn’t.

“In the second half it was difficult to keep them away from our goal so we decided to bring on Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard – two offensive players – and then they scored a brilliant goal from a corner [a Mahrez half-volley]: it was difficult to defend that one. And then, after that, it was a difficult and frustrating game for us because if you chase them high up you risk conceding one, two, three more times.”

United’s defeat dropped them into fifth place, 22 points behind City. Rangnick was asked about the gulf between United and their crosstown rivals. “After 28 games you are as far apart from each team as the table shows,” he said. “Now for us we have to look ahead and play two good home games versus Tottenham and Atlético Madrid.”

Rangnick explained Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence. “Our doctor came to see me Friday morning before training and said Cristiano could not train because of some problems with his hip flexor and it was the same Saturday,” he said.

Edinson Cavani was also out injured – for a sixth successive game. Rangnick denied the notion the player is not willing to make himself available. “Edi trained in the last three days and he trained well but he still felt after those three training sessions that he is not fit to play,” the German explained. “As a manager I cannot force a player if he does not feel fit to play.

“What does it help if I tell you it is frustrating? It is just a fact, if players tell the doctors they are not fit and cannot play, I have to accept it.”

Source: The Guardian