‘It feels like the first season under Pep’ – De Bruyne admits Man City’s standards have slipped in 2019-20
The Blues’ latest Premier League title bid has been undermined by “too many errors”, according to the Belgian playmaker
City established themselves as the dominant force in English football by winning back-to-back Premier League crowns under Guardiola, who has also masterminded two Carabao Cup triumphs and a solitary success in the FA Cup.
The Spanish head coach has always enjoyed a strong reputation for delivering tangible success wherever he’s been, with trophy-laden spells enjoyed at Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the earlier stages of his managerial career.
He was, however, unable to have the same immediate impact at City when he arrived in Manchester back in 2016, as he finished his first season in England without a single piece of silverware.
De Bruyne sees similarities between that campaign and the current season, with the Blues now destined to miss out on another league title after slipping 22 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool.
“We’re performing well but we’ve lost too many points. It feels a bit like the first season with Pep where we were playing good football but we were making too many errors,” the City midfielder told Sky Sports.
“There are games where you think you are fully in control and then the last five or 10 minutes, we basically gave it away and in this period where Liverpool are not dropping any points, every point you drop is too much. Even if we did better, I think the way Liverpool are performing this year and winning basically everything, they deserve to win and be champions again.
“I don’t think there is a level of frustration with Liverpool because you just have to applaud what they are doing. It’s also the same as what we had for the last two years – if you have that many points and win that many games, there’s not a lot the opposition can do and I know they’re just going to control what they do themselves.
“The only frustration we’ve had is making too many mistakes and it’s nothing to do with them [Liverpool], it’s more that we know if we didn’t make these mistakes, [the league] would be closer. We also accept it because you know how hard you have to work to be that good and there’s a lot of respect from both sides to each other. If they win it this way, that’s how it has to be.
“I always want to win everything. We know the league is gone but I would say win all the rest. I know that’s a hard job, but that’s what we want to do and that’s what the goals are. At the beginning of the season, we don’t say ‘we want to win the league and all the rest, we’ll see’, we want to win all four. We’ve still got the chance to do three so if that will be the case, then that will be pretty amazing.”
Despite their Premier League struggles, City could still end up finishing the season with three trophies, having reached the Carabao Cup final, Champions League knockout stages and the fifth round of the FA Cup.
Guardiola is currently preparing his side for a cup showdown against Aston Villa at Wembley on Sunday, with De Bruyne insisting that the club will be taking the game “seriously”.
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He added: “This club takes every competition seriously. It doesn’t matter what competition we play, we play to win it and we’ve shown that whoever you’re playing in this competition, new players and maybe players who play a little less, are there to win the game. The guys have stepped up and done the job brilliantly. Props to having a really good team of 25 players.
“It is the first trophy you can win and it is a trophy. I know people say it’s the smallest competition but at least if you don’t win anything else, you’ve won something. There are a lot of players who play a lot of games in their career and haven’t won one competition, even the Carabao Cup.
“You have to respect every competition because we play in big games and sometimes against teams from the lower leagues but even then, we show the dedication to do what we need to do as professionals and show that we’ll do everything to win this cup.”