LONDON • Pep Guardiola hailed Manchester City's feat of claiming the first domestic treble in English football as a bigger achievement than winning the Champions League, after an emphatic 6-0 thrashing of Watford at Wembley in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus each scored twice, while David Silva and Kevin de Bruyne netted to cap a glorious campaign with the biggest margin of victory in an FA Cup final since 1903.
City also retained the League Cup in February for a clean sweep of domestic silverware, but again missed out on a maiden Champions League trophy as Tottenham edged their quarter-final tie 4-4 on away goals last month.
Winning the European Cup for the first time in the club's history remains the holy grail for Guardiola, but he believes his side have raised the bar in England for performing week in, week out.
The City manager said: "It means being consistent every three days during 10 months. I love the Champions League, but doing that (the treble) is more difficult than winning the Champions League.
"This is one of the best seasons I've experienced as a manager. We know each other better and the standards we need. We should come back after summer, try to be fit and we'll see."
But, despite his 27th trophy as a coach and his sixth since arriving at the Etihad in 2016, he remains hungry for his side to improve even further next season.
This may have been a victory lap completed with embarrassing ease, with early Watford body blows parried in comfort before a form of footballing torture ensued, but this was arguably the greatest day in City's history as this treble was won ruthlessly, spectacularly.
PHIL MCNULTY, BBC Sport's chief football writer, on City's drubbing of Watford in the FA Cup final.
CLOSE TO PERFECTION
Welcome to the new order. Domestic games: played 51, won 43. Domestic trophies: three out of three. Five-goal hauls: 11. Defeats since Christmas: one... It turns out we really do all live in a sky blue world now.
'' BARNEY RONAY, The Guardian's senior sports writer on City's dominance of English football despite a stiff challenge from Liverpool in the league.
Guardiola, who was seen coaching Sterling in the aftermath of their Wembley victory, told BT Sport that "Liverpool show us how tough the future will be".
He said: "We won the Premier League by one point, so we are not so far away (from the competition) to be relaxed. This is the standards, the level we are going to face."
The Spaniard's unrelenting pursuit of perfection is why Steve McManaman feels "until he gets the Champions League, he'll still feel it's a bit of unfinished business".
Fellow pundit Rio Ferdinand also told BT Sport that with Guardiola at the helm, "the fear for everybody is they could dominate for many years to come".
The former Manchester United defender said: "He's not stupid. Liverpool are close. They mounted a proper competition this year. He knows he can't sit on the beach for too long. He'll be thinking about what to change, what to add.
"That's the scary thing for everybody else, the relentlessness, all trickles down from the manager."
Sterling also gave an insight into the demands Guardiola puts on the City players, saying: "I've been on holiday and (he's) made me think it's gonna be another tough season. Just keep improving myself, week in and week out."
While Guardiola will now go on a break before preparing for next term, he will not allow his plans to be overshadowed by persistent talk of a possible breach of Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules.
City have long strongly denied any wrongdoing but, last week, it was suggested that Uefa may impose a one-year ban on their competing in the Champions League, following an investigation.
Asked if he had received any similar extra payments, like the alleged funds that his predecessor Roberto Mancini received to keep within FFP regulations, Guardiola fumed: "Do you know the question you're asking me? Honestly, do you think I deserve to have this type of question, the day we won the treble?
"This club makes a big step forward with the investment. Can you do that without top players? No way. Money helps to buy the incredible players we have, yes.
"But we wait, if we're punished, we accept it. If the opponents and contenders think it's just about the money, it is okay."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE GUARDIAN