The perfectionist’s streak that is embedded in Pep Guardiola will not allow the Manchester City manager to get carried away with his side’s record-equalling start to an increasingly impressive Premier League campaign. (English Premier League Home | Fixtures | Standings/Table)
As City matched the 28-point mark that only two other sides ever attained after 10 games of a Premier League season, Guardiola was only concerned with how his dominant side ended up having to hold on grimly for a 3-2 win at West Bromwich Albion.
To the Spaniard, City’s sloppiness in letting Albion back into the game in the dying seconds at The Hawthorns was evidence only of how much they still had to improve.
It also gave a lie, he believed, to suggestions from Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp that his side’s seemingly irresistible attacking flair that has put them five points clear might see them wrap up the title race as early as January.
When asked whether any team could win the league on the back of uninhibited attacking play, Klopp had smiled: “Ask Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. In this moment it looks like they are champions in January or something.”
The comments left Guardiola responding after Saturday’s late scare when a Nicolas Otamendi mistake saw Albion claw back to 3-2: “Did you see a champion in January? Me neither.”
Still, though, the Spaniard, who has overseen a 21-match unbeaten run in all competitions, conceded: “Our mood is good. We believe we can score goals. We believe we will concede few.”
ROOM FOR IMPROVEMENT
That is evidenced by the remarkable plus-29 goal difference his team have run up in the league — far superior to the 2005 Chelsea and the 2011 version of Manchester City, the other two teams that also recorded 28 points at the same stage.
Goals from Leroy Sane, Fernandinho and Raheem Sterling took their tally of league goals to 35 yet Guardiola wondered why with a minute to play, after Otamendi’s mistake let in Matty Phillips, he was still left feeling nervous.
“We were stable after (they equalised for) 1-1 (and) after 3-2 we were stable but of course anything can happen,” he said.
Asked if his pacesetters could improve, he added: “Of course. A lot. It’s a game to win 5-1 or 6-1 and we won 3-2. There are always many things to get better.”
Albion boss Tony Pulis also warned that his side’s success in running the visitors close by the end should have provided encouragement for other chasers.
“When winter comes, we saw what happened with Manchester United when they went to Huddersfield when it was windy and wet. There’s lots of obstacles they’ve got to overcome. It’s not in the bag yet.”