Manchester City are better than last term: Pep

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero in action against Bournemouth on Saturday. City won the match 1-0 and now lead Liverpool by one point with nine games left after the Reds drew 0-0 with Everton on Sunday. Aguero has been the key man for City this
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero in action against Bournemouth on Saturday. City won the match 1-0 and now lead Liverpool by one point with nine games left after the Reds drew 0-0 with Everton on Sunday. Aguero has been the key man for City this season, topping the Premier League's scoring chart with 18 goals.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He has 'no regrets' if team fail to retain title; club plans to add Indian team to its portfolio

LONDON • Pep Guardiola feels Manchester City are playing "much, much better" than last year's record-breaking campaign and his players should not be regarded as "absolute losers" even if Liverpool pip them to the Premier League title.

The Spaniard told reporters: "Everybody knows exactly what we have to do, everybody helps each other. And, when this happens, we can compete and, if we lose, we lose, but no regrets.

"I know in our society, just the first one has the credit. But it is impossible to feel that about my players, it's impossible."

City smashed a host of marks on their way to becoming champions last term, including amassing 100 points and scoring 106 goals.

But, despite failing to replicate that level of dominance this season, they have overturned a seven-point deficit in recent months to wrestle top spot from Liverpool by one point, with nine league games left.

And Guardiola felt it was all the more remarkable as City, who remain the only English team capable of an unprecedented quadruple, have had to deal with a far busier fixture schedule than their title rivals.

"Of course we want to win the Premier League, I feel the players show me every single day they want to win it," he said.

"But we have played nine or 10 games more than Liverpool (who have exited both domestic Cups).

"It's a lot of minutes in our legs in all competitions. In spite of that, we are still there and that's why I'm happy. I would prefer it to be like last season's position to be 12 points in front, but that was an exceptional situation."

Separately, City is considering adding a team in India to its global portfolio of clubs, chief executive officer Ferran Soriano said on Monday.

A fortnight ago, City Football Group (CFG), bankrolled by Sheikh Mansour of the Abu Dhabi royal family, announced it had purchased a stake in Chinese third-tier club Sichuan Jiuniu.

That took the number of clubs under the CFG banner to seven, with the group also owning or having stakes in New York City, Melbourne City, Japan's Yokohama F Marinos, Uruguayan club Atletico Torque and LaLiga side Girona.

Soriano said: "We have some interest in some markets and countries where there is a genuine football passion and opportunities, like China, but also India.

"So there might be other opportunities in Asia. With all these developments, we have to be patient. We've been looking at India for nearly two years now. I'd say this year we'll end up doing an investment in India."

CFG was established as an umbrella organisation in 2013 when City's initial sister club was launched in New York and Soriano added there was still room for significant investment.

"As we see it now, there is a natural pace of growth that we will follow that takes us to more than seven teams, but not 100 teams," the Spaniard said. "I cannot see 10 years ahead, but the group might have two or three teams more.

"Is this going to change in five years and we're going to have more? Maybe, (but) I don't know that. But, to complete the vision that we had six years ago, we will have maybe two or three clubs more."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2019, with the headline 'City are better than last term: Pep'. Print Edition | Subscribe