Pep Guardiola insists he is more positive about City’s prospects for success this season following Saturday’s 3-1 home defeat to Chelsea – a performance he said made him “proud” – than he was after the scruffy away wins against Crystal Palace and Burnley.
But Guardiola thinks it is too simplistic to blame individuals for poor defending and says it is a consequence of how the team is playing and a responsibility for all 11 players.
“I don’t divide football in attack and defence,” he said. “Of course there are individual actions when you score goals. We create enough. Football is a continued transition. When you attack good, you defend good. It is not about the strikers just focussing on attack and the defenders just focussing on defend. I don’t think like that.
“After Palace and Burnley I was a little bit worried. I thought if we play like this, we are not going to go anywhere.
“Of course I would have preferred to have won against Chelsea and we would be top of the league. Then our analysis would be completely different. But I’m confident because we play 60, 65 minutes good. We need to continue, continue, continue and when we do, we’ll be there.
“When our game is up and down, like at Palace and Burnley, sometimes you win when you don’t play good or don’t deserve it. But now I’m happy and half-an-hour later, or one hour later when I am home after the Chelsea game, I think to myself ‘this season is going to be good’.
“We lost against Chelsea, but we have to keep going and play the way we can play, create chances and concede few. We conceded in the last minutes because we didn’t control the game, we played more with the heart.
“When we are talking about the last game, I’m so, so satisfied. I’ve watched the game again and what we have to improve and how many things we did well.
“We analysed the last minutes and the result and they won, congratulations, but the way we played was really quite well. That’s why I’m satisfied. It was much better than the last two games away where we won and nobody said anything.
“In this kind of game against big teams you have to be lucky, in the sense you score goals and you don’t concede. We were unlucky. That’s why you have to improve and mentally be stronger in the moments when we don’t score a goal or concede, like we did in the first half, keep going, keep going. It’s a long road and today does not finish our season.
“We play faster than in Munich and even in Barcelona when we had one player [Messi] to help us create those steps. If we won against Chelsea we would be top of the league but we played 60 minutes good. Sometimes you win when you don’t play good or don’t deserve. We lost against Chelsea, we have to keep going.
“In general, I am so satisfied in the short time we have been together. We attack with 10 players and try not to concede on the counter attack.
“I decide this way because I did it all my career, attacking smaller spaces and defending bigger spaces. For that, you need time, but I am sure when you are able to do it, you are more attractive and you are more safe. But of course we need time in a world we don’t have.”
Guardiola was more reluctant to talk about City’s disciplinary problems as they await the verdict form the FA who are considering fining City and Chelsea for failing to control their players.
“I don’t have regrets. It is a pity what happened in the last minute and of course we are going to accept the bans from the FA [for Aguero and Fernandinho] and we are going to work with other players for the next games.
Asked who was to blame for Saturday’s unseemly fracas, Guardiola said, “The players. “
He confirmed however he will make whoelsale changes for the Celtic game with Willy Cabellero, Bacary Sagna, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Yaya Toure, Fernando and Nolito all likely to start in order to give oms of the regulars a rest. Young centre half Tosin Adarabioyo could make his third start.