Pep Guardiola has warned his in-form Manchester City players he will not hesitate to drop them if complacency sets in.
Manchester United’s 0-0 draw at Chelsea on Sunday left City 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League with the same number of games remaining.
Saturday’s hard-fought 2-1 win over West Ham was a 20th consecutive victory in all competitions for Guardiola’s side, who will defend their EFL Cup crown in next month’s final against Tottenham.
They remain well-placed in the FA Cup and Champions League, but as talk of a slew of trophies begins to mount, Guardiola insisted he will not relent in his demands.
“As much as we win and get results, we have to demand and be [all] over the players and say we can do better,” he said ahead of Tuesday’s Premier League home game against Wolves.
“The moment when I feel that everyone is thinking the job is done, or how good it is, this guy is not going to play.
“I’m so intuitive to know exactly the guys who are not ready to continue what we have to do.”
Making it 20 in a row!
— Manchester City (@ManCity) February 27, 2021
Liverpool have fallen out of the title race despite demolishing the competition on the way to racking up 99 points in 2019-20.
Guardiola believes a tough time since the turn of the year for Jurgen Klopp’s injury-hit side serves as a warning to his own squad, as does the fact City reignited their season having taken a paltry 12 points from their first eight matches.
“The champion is Liverpool, we are not. To do it we still have to win eight, nine or 10 games and it’s a lot of games,” he said.
“There are incredible teams who struggle for four or five games to win games. It can happen to us too.
“Last season it happened. At the beginning of the season it happened. We were unable to win three games in a row in the first two months.”
Nevertheless, the picture could be even sunnier than some recent unseasonable Manchester weather if City keep Wolves at bay and overcome United in Sunday’s derby.
“We know each other quite well and the players know how demanding I am,” Guardiola added, suggesting familiarity more than fear is driving a phenomenal run.
“We’ve had three sunny days in Manchester but we do not relax one second.
“Wolves is an incredibly tough game and then next Sunday against United. We saw against Chelsea how strong they are. There are still a lot of nice things to play for.”