Pep Guardiola endured a thoroughly miserable afternoon at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on Sunday.
Manchester City’s 2-0 defeat to Spurs leaves them 22 points off the pace in their non-existent title race with Liverpool and tightens the Reds’ grip on the trophy even further.
Few will have expected Jose Mourinho to come out on top against his eternal rival, but for Guardiola it was the thought of Jurgen Klopp and his dominant side that was bothering him after the game.
The Catalan is in an unenviable position right now; City have no prospect of winning the title and every defeat only intensifies the scrutiny on the current champions’ shortcomings.
So, while most of the Premier League is busy adulating Liverpool, Guardiola has been losing his head.
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The City boss has never forgotten comments made in 2018 by Richard Scudamore, then chief of the Premier League.
After Guardiola’s men had won the title by 19 points – becoming the Premier League’s first centurions in the process – Scudamore told the BBC:
“It doesn’t take away from City’s excellence, but we want the season to go to the last.
“I’d like multiple trophies needed in various locations on the last day because we don’t know how it will end.”
And after watching his side beaten in north London thanks to a superb volley from Steven Bergwijn on his debut and a goal from Son Heung-min, Guardiola hit back:
“Two seasons ago there was the owner of the Premier League who said that could not happen again, it’s not good for the Premier League for City to win the title in that way, with 100 points.
“Now it’s Liverpool, you have to be concerned if you are the owner of the Premier League.
“They [Liverpool] are unstoppable. They have a lot of points, we dropped points in the games that we played quite similar to today. Even when we played Anfield. Now it’s to try to qualify for the Champions League next season.”
He has well and truly conceded defeat.
GIVEMESPORT’S Kat Lucas:
Scudamore’s comments have not been forgotten in Etihad quarters. For Guardiola, they spoke of favouritism and a wish to see Liverpool win the league.
Yet the ex-Premier League chief has a valid point here. The fact the current pace-setters are 22 points clear at the start of February is, quite frankly, an indictment of the rest of the league.
Take a look at La Liga this season. The title race has had countless twists and turns already and both Barcelona and Real Madrid have suffered several upsets at the hands of ‘lesser’ teams. We’re just not getting that in England.
That said, Guardiola cannot feel too hard-done-by. With the resources at his disposal, being so far behind Liverpool is not acceptable either and yesterday, his players only had themselves to blame for losing 2-0 to a side who had three attempts to City’s 18. A Mourinho masterclass, but one that shows just how wasteful the champions can be.
It’s no wonder they’ve left their manager clutching at straws.