Football: City did not match Liverpool's passion, says Guardiola as he eyes FA Cup, Champions League next

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has challenged his stars to learn from the painful experience. PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Pep Guardiola said Manchester City failed to match Liverpool's hunger to win the English Premier League title after his side's two-year reign as champions came to an end on Thursday (June 25).

Guardiola's side handed Liverpool their first English title for 30 years after losing 2-1 to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.

After playing second fiddle to City for the last two years, Liverpool have stormed to the title with a remarkable 28 wins from their 31 league games to open up a 23-point gap at the top of the table with just seven games left.

Guardiola conceded his players struggled to emulate the desire and drive shown by Jurgen Klopp's team, who lost the title to City on the final day of the season last term.

"Maybe we didn't arrive with the same passion; Liverpool played every single game like it was the last chance they have," Guardiola said.

"And maybe we didn't get that moment, especially the key moments in the first part of the season.

"That is the reality, that we are so far behind. Liverpool were fantastic in consistency throughout the whole season.

"We dropped points at the beginning of the season and Liverpool didn't drop points."

Liverpool's title triumph comes with a record seven games still to play and the Reds could go on to smash a whole series of records set by Guardiola's City two years ago.

Urging City to be maintain their focus better in future, Guardiola is well aware of the task his side face to regain the title next term.

"We'll have to recover for next season, to be more consistent, and recover the points we missed this season," he said. "That's the reality. Two years ago, we were 25 points ahead of Liverpool, and now they are this distance ahead."

Guardiola had known the title was on its way to Merseyside for months after Liverpool opened up a huge lead before the coronavirus hiatus.

Now the City manager has challenged his stars to learn from the painful experience.

"We have to take a little perspective, be humble, and say, 'Not all the time we can win'," he said. "Then we must learn what we need to do to avoid this situation again."

Guardiola is confident of a City response next season, but is concentrating on finishing this season on a high in the FA Cup and Champions League.

The holders travel to Newcastle in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup on Sunday and hold a 2-1 lead over Real Madrid from the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

"Now we have I would say still five, six weeks of competition, especially Sunday with the FA Cup," he added.

"It's important to get to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, get qualification for the Champions League, and after that the Champions League itself.

"I've never thought, 'Always we can win', but we can say, the last 10 competitions we played as a club we won eight titles.

"That's never happened before in this country. You cannot win all the time and always."

He appeared to blame the absence of injured French centre-back Aymeric Laporte for most of the season for City's spluttering form.

"We missed one important central defender. That was a real big problem for us," he said.

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