Manchester City are not about to get sidetracked by quadruple talk, says Ilkay Gundogan.
City take on Borussia Monchengladbach in the Champions League last 16 on Wednesday, buoyed by an unbeaten run of 25 matches across all competitions.
The upshot is a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League, along with progress to the final and quarter-finals respectively of the EFL Cup and FA Cup.
Pep Guardiola’s side won an unprecedented domestic treble in England in 2018-19, although their Champions League exit at the hands of Tottenham was the second of three consecutive failures at the quarter-final stage.
Guardiola’s mantra through the ongoing run has been one of “game by game” and Gundogan echoed his boss when the Q-word reared its head at a Tuesday news conference.
“Nothing that I’ve thought about until today, until you just mentioned it,” he replied about a clean sweep of trophies.
“And nothing that I’ll be thinking of for the next few weeks. If it’s going to happen, I’ll take it. But it’s not really anything to do with me at the moment.”
The Germany playmaker is enjoying the most prolific season of his career, with 13 goals overall.
Eleven of those have come since mid-December, making him a key pillar in City’s remarkable streak, but Gundogan was cautious when it came to labelling such displays as career-best form.
11 – Manchester City have equalled the record for consecutive away wins by an English top-flight team across all competitions (11), which was previously set by Pep Guardiola’s side between May and November 2017. Domination. pic.twitter.com/2X4sMDqL0O
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) February 21, 2021
“That’s why I play football, to try and to reach my best, to play as well as possible, to develop, to do the right things,” he said.
“It is always satisfying when you play well but I don’t think that I was not as satisfied as I am today, just because my numbers this season are really good in terms of goalscoring.
“I wouldn’t like to say that I’ve played worse in the past, in terms of form I feel I am on the same level as when we won the league one point ahead of Liverpool, or even when I played in Germany.
“I play another role at the moment, more offensive. I try to be closer to our opponents’ box, more into positions where I can create or be dangerous. That leads to more goals.
“Just because I score more goals doesn’t mean I am playing better. Of course, it’s satisfying, it’s nice to be recognised.”
By contrast, Gundogan was quick to heap plenty of the praise for City’s turnaround from poor early season form at Guardiola’s door.
“We knew that we were not at our best. Full credit goes to our manager – he said the right things at the right time,” he added.
“He saw that something was wrong, a bit missing and he adjusted a couple of things, in terms of how we defend, how we play with the ball.
“That’s why he’s the best manager in the world. It led to this outcome. It’s incredible, I never though in December about where we would be in February.
“But I knew that we are capable of a lot of things, that we have great quality and can go on a run like we are on now. It doesn’t come automatically, we had to adjust things.”