Pep focused only on attitude, not record

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero missed a hatful of chances at Newcastle on Wednesday. The hitman will be expected to lead the line at Crystal Palace, as City look to extend their run to 19 league wins in a row - and in the process equal Bayern
Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero missed a hatful of chances at Newcastle on Wednesday. The hitman will be expected to lead the line at Crystal Palace, as City look to extend their run to 19 league wins in a row - and in the process equal Bayern Munich's record set in the 2013-14 season.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

City boss believes winning streak will end at some point but reaction to any adversity is key

LONDON • Pep Guardiola hopes to end the year with another illustration of his Manchester City aristocrats at their irresistible best.

But, ahead of today's Premier League visit to Crystal Palace, the Spaniard insisted that records are of little significance and warned his players to learn to bounce back should they drop points in the second half of the season.

"Always here, you talk about the numbers and the records, but that's just a consequence of what we're doing on the pitch," Guardiola said at a pre-match conference on Friday, when asked about the prospect of his side ending the year with another remarkable landmark.

If City win at Palace, it would be their 19th league win in a row, matching the all-time record victory sequence in any of the top-five European leagues, set by German giants Bayern Munich in 2013-14.

As the manager who oversaw that run, that would just be another measure of his rare quality of fashioning not just winning machines, but attractive winning machines.

It is the way they are creating their milestones, not the records themselves that appears to most energise the perfectionist.

"The record's not what counts; what counts is what we have to do against Palace," added Guardiola.

"Sooner or later, we are going to drop points and we have to see how we react in that moment.

"I have told the players many times that we are going to lose a game. It's important how we react.

"The problem is not losing a game, it's how you react and immediately win again. That's the most important thing in any league if you want to win the title."

The idea that Guardiola is ready to prolong his stay with City gained traction, after it emerged that he had bought a £2.7 million (S$4.88 million) flat in the city centre. Land Registry documents released this week show that he purchased the luxurious Deansgate flat that he had been renting since March.

City sources have indicated recently he could stay beyond 2019, when his contract is due to expire.

"I bought an apartment because I have to live somewhere, and I'm happy to live in the city," he said.

Captain Vincent Kompany suffered his third injury of the season when he limped off with a calf problem 11 minutes into Wednesday's 1-0 victory at Newcastle, and is a doubt for the trip to Selhurst Park.

Fellow centre-back John Stones is close to recovering from the hamstring problem he suffered during the 2-0 win at Leicester on Nov 18.

Palace's run of eight games without defeat came to an end with the 2-3 defeat by Arsenal on Thursday.

Palace manager Roy Hodgson said that he would employ the same attacking tactics against City.

"They seem to score four or five, especially against those teams that really just set out not to allow them to score," he said. "Any team that tries to go toe to toe with them and actually attacks them, runs the risk of conceding goals.

"But the players we have are best suited to playing the way we are trying to play, so I'm afraid we won't have much option other than to try and do against them what we tried to do against Arsenal."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON

CRYSTAL PALACE V MAN CITY

Singtel TV Ch102 & StarHub Ch227, 8pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 31, 2017, with the headline 'Pep focused only on attitude, not record'. Print Edition | Subscribe