Football

Guardiola unmoved by favourites' tag

Man City boss pleased with team's opening win, but warns of tough season ahead

Pep Guardiola played down Manchester City's favourites' tag after his side defeated Brighton 2-0 yesterday morning (Singapore time) as their Premier League rivals faltered elsewhere.

Arsenal were unconvincing in beating Leicester on Friday, Liverpool drew at Watford and holders Chelsea were beaten at home by Burnley on Saturday.

But City, boosted by a 
£200-million (S$355.5m) summer spending spree, were ruthless in overcoming the stubborn Seagulls, with Sergio Aguero's goal after 70 minutes followed by Lewis Dunk's own goal.

Guardiola, accustomed to coaching favourites following spells at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, said: "Last season it was too. Last season sitting here after the Sunderland game you said 'you are the favourites, you are the most beautiful and handsome and nice guys in the league'.

"After that you know what happened last season? Chelsea killed us.

"Okay, we accept what the people say, we have to try to improve and improve.

"I'm so satisfied with what we have done, but of course we can get better. About who are the favourites or not, it's your (the media's) job, not ours."

The 46-year-old Spaniard also reassured the fans that the pressure of being favourites will not get to him.

He said: "No. What I cannot control doesn't matter.

"Last season, it was the same and look what happened. But I'm used to that.

"I was manager at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. I can handle that situation."

He also cautioned his players about the inevitable ups and downs during the season, pointing to the shock weekend results as proof of the competitiveness of the EPL.

“About who are the favourites or not, it’s your (the media’s) job, not ours.”Man City boss Pep Guardiola

He said: "We spoke about that. It's the Premier League. I lived that last season.

"Here every game is a battle.The first game is always complicated.

"We saw this weekend what happened in many games.

"From my experience in Barcelona too, especially against the newly promoted, it's always difficult. And we did it.

"We were stable. We controlled the game and the game was in our hands.

"To start with three points away is always so important."

After the game, Brighton boss Chris Hughton reminded everyone of the two clubs' different ambitions, and said they reflected the gulf in quality between them.

Hughton said: "For 70 minutes, we played the game that we had to play.

"When you're up against the quality that they've got - they have designs on Champions League; ours is to stay in this division next season.

"For 70 minutes, we kept them to minimal good chances. But probably the first moment you allow yourselves to get really stretched as a team they capitalised.

"That's the quality that they've got." - PA SPORT

eplmanchester citypep guardiola