Pep Guardiola is confident Manchester City will fight for the title despite the attritional effort required to be champions in four of the last five years.
Guardiola’s squad has a core of 12 players who have all featured in at least three triumphant squads since the 2016-17 campaign: Kyle Walker, Kevin De Bruyne, Rúben Dias, John Stones, Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Aymeric Laporte , João Cancelo, Ilkay Gündogan, Rodri, Phil Foden and Riyad Mahrez.
The manager has previously praised their ability to maintain the mental and physical advantage to achieve this. Given that all 12 players remain at City, Guardiola was asked what assured him they could compete again.
“There’s no reason not to be confident,” he said. “No reason. What these guys have done, not just in the Premier League, but [domestic] cups and Europe [says it all]. I don’t know what’s going to happen this season, but I’m sure I know these guys. I have no doubt for a second.
City lost the Community Shield 3-1 to Liverpool on Saturday but Guardiola is not concerned ahead of the league visit to West Ham next Sunday. “We lost a final that we would have preferred to win but respect the opponent. We know the standards and how to achieve them, maintaining them as always,” he said.
“We are closer [to being ready]. A few days ago we played against Bayern and did a very good performance and against Liverpool we did very good things. I don’t feel like we’re far away.
“But the end of the field [attack and defence] will dictate what happens against West Ham and Bournemouth. This will determine our level. There are processes that will not be perfect, and that we will have to correct, and we will improve.
On City’s rivalry with Liverpool, Guardiola said: “It’s happened in recent years and mostly because of the games both teams provoke. Both make moves in the counter-attacks and I’m sure that will continue. There are many, many teams in the Premier League who can achieve this level – the consistency we have had in previous seasons.
While Erling Haaland failed to score against Liverpool, another debutant, Julián Álvarez, netted City’s consolation goal. Guardiola’s other new signing, Kalvin Phillips, was an unused substitute.
“He has confidence – he is ready to play,” the coach said of the midfielder. “He only arrived three weeks ago and we have Rodri, Bernard [Silva] and Gündogan who already know our game. But step by step, he will get there. In many matches, he will help us.