LONDON (REUTERS) - Pep Guardiola refused to criticise his players but said they must do better next season after Manchester City wasted numerous chances, missed a penalty and had Oleksandr Zinchenko sent off in a 2-0 Premier League loss at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (Feb 2).
The Spaniard took close to an hour to appear for his post-match news conference, prompting talk of a dressing down for his players after a sixth league loss of the season which left them 22 points behind leaders Liverpool.
But Guardiola was giving little away, bemoaning an unusually bad day at the office for his feared strike force that has helped City rack up more than 100 goals in all competitions this season.
"They (Liverpool) are unstoppable with a lot of points...now is the target for the (other) competitions and quality for the Champions League next season," Guardiola said.
"The distance is so big and next season we have to do better." City had 18 goal attempts compared to Tottenham's three, the hosts taking the lead in the 63rd minute when debutant Steven Bergwijn volleyed home with Jose Mourinho's side's first attempt on target.
Despite playing the last 30 minutes with 10 men after Zinchenko's red card, City enjoyed nearly 70 percent possession overall but Sergio Aguero wasted several good chances and Ilkay Gundogan had a penalty saved by Spurs keeper Hugo Lloris before missing a sitter.
"We are there in the six-yard box and we are not able to score," Guardiola, whose side have failed to score in consecutive matches for the first time in his reign.
"One day it will click." With their hopes of a third successive Premier League title all over bar the shouting, Guardiola said motivation was not a problem for his side. The Champions League, however, is not their priority.
"We played well, but we lost the game. (Spurs) arrived in (the box) twice and scored two goals. I don't have too many things to say about our performance," he said.
"We have to accept it and work on that. We need to analyse that. Football is to create chances and concede few. We played to win the game. I didn't see a lack of desire to win or that we're far away."