Pep Guardiola says Manchester City must pray they can close the gap on Liverpool next season after conceding the Premier League title to their rivals.
Liverpool have a 14-point lead over City going into 2020, having dropped just two points in the league all season.
Asked how City can compete with Jurgen Klopp’s side in future, Guardiola replied: ‘Work harder, play better, and pray.
‘This is a fantastic team. We’ve had problems with injuries, which sometimes happens. But Liverpool have been incredible — European champions and they have dropped just two points.
‘We have to congratulate them. I know the distance is not what it should be but it is what it is.’
As well as the injury situation, Guardiola feels aggrieved over a number of VAR decisions that have gone against the back-to-back champions this season. ‘You know what they are, you know that,’ he said when pressed on the issue.
‘There are things we can control, there are other issues we cannot control. We cannot control what a fantastic team like Liverpool have done so far, and there are other issues you cannot control. When everyone is fit, we can do it.’
Guardiola revealed that City have already turned their thoughts to next season’s Premier League title race.
‘We are talking about that,’ he said. ‘We know more or less what we have to do.’
Guardiola also used his final press conference of 2019 to assess the club’s success over the last decade.
A haul of four Premier League titles, two FA Cups and four League Cups has been Abu Dhabi’s reward for Sheik Mansour’s lavish investment in the club.
‘I think this, in the last decade, has been the best team in terms of points and goals, in terms of everything, titles even — so congratulate Manchester City for that,’ said Guardiola. ‘When we analyse what happened in the last 10 seasons, especially when people from Abu Dhabi took over the club and bought good players, interesting managers and bigger stuff, I think we did it incredibly well.
‘People say, “How was 2019?” Now people are saying it is a disaster. We won four titles in 2019, so it was an incredible year for us.
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‘Congratulations to all the people working here. They were fighting with huge elephants in England — big, big clubs with the biggest history. For the past decade we were part of them. That is amazing.’
Guardiola confirmed that Aymeric Laporte, who was initially ruled out until February with knee ligament damage, has returned to light training.
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