'Man City not yet a finished product'

Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany (centre) celebrates scoring their second goal with Leroy Sane (left), David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne.
Manchester City skipper Vincent Kompany (centre) celebrates scoring their second goal with Leroy Sane (left), David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne.PHOTO: REUTERS

Guardiola bemoans team's lack of sharpness in front of goal as reason they are not champs

LONDON • Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are the Premier League's most creative team, but the Spaniard warned his players to show a more ruthless streak despite their 5-0 rout of Crystal Palace.

City were in prolific form as they thrashed Palace at Eastlands on Saturday.

However, it was only City's third win in nine league matches, and their inconsistency this season has left them 12 points adrift of leaders Chelsea with three games to play.

Guardiola believes City would have been worthy champions this season had they been more clinical in front of goal.

He could recall just one match this season when City created fewer chances than their opponents - at Tottenham in early October, when City lost 0-2.

"Maybe I remember one game this season where the opponent create more chances. One - at White Hart Lane. The others, no chance," the 46-year-old said.

FINAL ANALYSIS

You see Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, they create enough chances, similar to us, but they score goals. We've missed that this season a lot.

PEP GUARDIOLA, Manchester City manager, pointing out the difference between his side and some of the most clinical teams in Europe.

"We are the best team in the Premier League for creating clear chances. We are the best one. But we are not able to score goals.

"The most difficult thing in football, basketball, tennis - in all the sports - is that final moment."

Without injured striker Sergio Aguero, City enjoyed their biggest league victory under Guardiola, with goals from David Silva, Vincent Kompany, Kevin de Bruyne, Raheem Sterling and Nicolas Otamendi.

Yet the manager can cite many examples of games where City did not take their chances and suffered as a result, most notably their 4-0 defeat in January at Everton, who scored their goals with their only four shots on target.

"In the game against Everton, they arrive four times and we lose 4-0. We arrive more times than any other team," he said. "You see Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, they create enough chances, similar to us, but they score goals. We've missed that this season a lot."

City are improving though, with Kompany back from injury last month. The Belgian and Otamendi, plus Yaya Toure, anchored City in the centre, allowing de Bruyne and Silva to roam and a lighting-quick front line to attack the spaces between and behind Palace's defenders.

It was remarkable that Leroy Sane did not score, given his number of penetrating runs.

Guardiola's team are effectively in a three-way fight with Liverpool and Manchester United for the final two Champions League places.

There is, though, the possibility that all three could still qualify, if United win the Europa League and finish fifth.

"The Premier League is tough. I hope United can focus on the Europa League and next season we can have five English teams in the Champions League. It will be amazing," Guardiola added.

Palace manager Sam Allardyce was critical of his players, suggesting that they effectively gave City the win. After defeating Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool last month, three straight defeats have brought Palace back into the relegation equation.

Allardyce's side remain in 16th on 38 points, only four points clear of the drop zone with two games left.

"We need a result against Hull next week and we need to get back to keeping clean sheets," he said.

THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 08, 2017, with the headline ''Man City not yet a finished product''. Print Edition | Subscribe