Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus are the best teams of the past decade and an example for Manchester City to follow, according to manager Pep Guardiola.
City thumped Burnley 5-0 to move into the fifth round of the FA Cup next month, when they will also defend their EFL Cup crown in a Wembley final against Chelsea and take on Bundesliga side Schalke in the last 16 of the Champions League.
The reigning Premier League champions remain four points behind leaders Liverpool, but boast an aggregate of 28-0 in the six games across all competitions since they beat Jurgen Klopp’s men 2-1 at the Etihad Stadium on 3 January.
Such form has once again stoked talk of an unprecedented quadruple – something Guardiola was, as usual, keen to dismiss out of hand, instead focusing on the ground his team must make up on Europe’s elite.
‘I know you are so generous and thank you so much guys, but every time you make that comment we lose a competition,’ he said when asked by reporters about the prospect of a clean sweep.
‘It’s important now that at the end of January we are still there. At the big clubs, that is the big difference.
‘I’ve said many times: who are the best teams in the last decade? Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona. These are the three best teams in Europe. Why? Because every season they win the league, every season they win the cups, every season they are there. Because they are the best.
‘We can – [maybe] not get close to them, because it’s difficult – but imitate them. Being in the competition until the last stages. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes not, but be there. That’s what I want.
‘Premier League, until the end, Carabao Cup final back-to-back – chapeau, hats off to my players. [Against Burnley] we win the game and get through. Prepare for Schalke.
‘That is what makes you become a better team and a better club. The best teams have to imitate these three teams, not the other ones.
‘That consistency, every three days for 11 months during 10 years, that’s what I respect and admire the most. That will be my dream. Every single game and competition we try to do that. And so far, we have done it.’
Guardiola explained that the decision to bring forward City’s game at Everton to 6 February – the fixture had been scheduled for EFL Cup final weekend – means his players will not have a day off around a match sandwiched by home matches against Arsenal and Chelsea.
It is a workload he believes they should relish.
‘When I prepared the schedule between Arsenal and Chelsea, we had eight days. Suddenly we play Everton in between. I cannot give a day off,’ he added, with City back in action at Newcastle United in the Premier League on Tuesday. ‘We have a lot of games, so no way.
‘But at the same time I tell them it’s a privilege. If you believe it’s a handicap, that’s a big mistake. It’s a privilege.
‘When you are 35 years old you can have long holidays. No problem, you will be retired. Take a year for holidays.
‘But for now, it’s a privilege. Take it, enjoy it. Next one, win again. The competition doesn’t matter. Win again, play good, prepare well. That’s the only way. After, you work for the next season.’
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