Football

A bridge too far for Man City

Guardiola admits title chances may be over as City trail Chelsea by 10 points

Pep Guardiola appeared to concede defeat in the title race after Manchester City suffered a humbling 4-0 loss at Everton on Sunday.

City capitulated alarmingly in the latter stages at Goodison Park to crash to their heaviest Premier League defeat since 2008 and their fifth loss of the campaign.

The result left them in fifth, trailing leaders Chelsea by 10 points, and Guardiola admitted that a league crown in his first season in English football could be beyond him.

Asked if the gap to the top was now too great, Guardiola said: "Yes. Ten points are a lot of points. The second one is three points. We have to see."

UNFORTUNATE

Guardiola, however, felt his side were unfortunate against the Toffees and insisted that they would continue to push hard.

He said: "In so many games, we create enough chances but, when they arrive (for the opposition), they score and, the second time they arrive, they score.

"That, for the mind of the players, is tough, mentally tough, and that is why we have to keep going, be strong and work harder."

The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss denied that he was now facing the toughest challenge of a managerial career that had never before suffered a 4-0 loss in a domestic league match.

He feels his jobs in the past were just as challenging, but he managed to find the route to success quicker.

He said: "When you have eight years as a coach and you win seven titles and you're always winning - that is the exceptional situation.

"I have to look for the best solution to take the players to winning games again.

"It is the first time in my life I have conceded a lot of goals. It never happened before and I need to know the reason why."

City played some good football in the first half, but were stung by goals in the 34th and 47th minutes from Romelu Lukaku and Kevin Mirallas respectively.

Their response after that was underwhelming and Everton wrapped up a fine victory with a superb goal from impressive academy product Tom Davies and debutant Ademola Lookman.

Everton boss Ronald Koeman said: "I think how we played in the second half was really perfect. In my opinion, it is impossible to play at a higher level."

UNDER THE SPOTLIGHT

Lookman's goal came after a John Stones clearance was charged down, throwing him under the spotlight again.

It was Stones' first visit to Goodison Park since leaving Everton for City in a £47.5-million (S$82.5m) deal last summer.

The 22-year-old defender has been criticised for making too many mistakes, and former Manchester United and Everton defender Phil Neville believes he is being unfairly singled out.

However, fellow BBC pundit Alan Shearer said: "John Stones did have a nightmare.

"He is 22 now, he has played nearly 100 Premier League games and everyone keeps saying to me and to the rest of the football world that he is going to be a top player.

"If I'm a centre forward, a young guy and I keep missing chances, I don't expect to be in the team. Eventually, you are going to get left out. I keep seeing Stones making mistakes too often, too many times." - WIRE SERVICES

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