Guardiola plea for patience in quest to rejuvenate City
Pep Guardiola has called for more time to turn Manchester City into a success, indicating that their early-season flourish may have been something of a false dawn. Guardiola began his reign as the club's manager with 10 victories in a row, but has since gone six games without winning.
It is City's worst sequence of results since December 2008, and the longest winless run of Guardiola's managerial career, although they still lead the Premier League on goal difference.
Emphatic early-season wins over Stoke and Bournemouth, plus a terrific league victory over neighbours United at Old Trafford last month, raised expectations. However, even in the early weeks of the campaign, Guardiola declared that his team were not playing well enough to win the Premier League.
Progress has stalled since then, with no victories since September 24, and United gaining revenge on Wednesday in the EFL Cup, albeit against a City team showing nine changes from their previous match.
Guardiola argues that he is still adapting to English football, and that his players are still getting used to him. Despite his caution, and poor recent results, he thinks that he is close to getting it right in England.
He said: "I don't know how long it will take. Normally, if I win, I will get time. People didn't think I needed time after we won at Stoke. They said that Pep is ready to coach in the Premier League because he is able to win at Stoke City.
"In football, every opponent is different. But I think we are close. We are close to the beginning. I am close now to doing what you have to do."
Before this season, Guardiola's worst run before that came in the spring of 2009, during his first season at Barcelona, when he went five matches without winning.
He still ended that campaign with a treble of La Liga, the Copa Del Rey and the Champions League, but admitted that going so long without a victory seven years ago concerned him, and he has the same feelings now.
"It was a long time ago," he said. "I think it would have been a worry, like the same worry now. I don't remember what I thought when I went five games at Barcelona without winning. I think the same right now; you have to win right now.
"This situation will make us stronger for the future. I'm pretty sure of that."
Guardiola will attempt to end his winless sequence today at West Bromwich Albion, in a match that is likely to see a clash of styles. While City's manager prefers to play out from the back, Albion counterpart Tony Pulis drills his team to use a more direct route to goal.
Guardiola has respect for the way West Brom play, but insists that the long ball style would not suit his strikers Sergio Aguero and Kelechi Iheanacho.
He said: "With Kelechi, Kun Aguero, it's not a good solution."
Today's match begins a key week in City's season, with Barcelona visiting the Etihad on Tuesday. Should Guardiola's team fail in both games, they could be deposed from the top of the table in England, and down to third in their Champions League group.
Winger Leroy Sane believes Guardiola's vision will bring success. He said: "You can see in every training session, every situation, he'll study it and seek to improve every player.
"He'll pick out things to improve on, and make us better."