31st December, 2022
Pep Guardiola said he would not have signed his new deal at Manchester City if he felt the players were not showing enough “desire and hunger.”
The former Barcelona head coach penned a two-year contract extension in November, keeping him at the Etihad Stadium until 2025.
Guardiola has lifted the Premier League four times, as well as five domestic cups, since arriving at the club in 2016, though the Champions League has so far eluded him with the Citizens, including a final defeat to Chelsea in 2021.
However, the signing of Erling Haaland has given Guardiola’s side renewed vigour, with many feeling the Norway international could be the final piece of the puzzle as City bid to win European football’s top prize for the first time.
Guardiola’s new deal put an end to rumours his time at City may be coming to an end, with some suggesting he may seek new challenges or even take a sabbatical similar to the one he did after leaving Barcelona in 2012.
But Guardiola feels City’s two displays since coming back from the World Cup break – a 3-2 EFL Cup win over Liverpool and a 3-1 league victory at Leeds United – have exemplified why he decided to stay on.
“It is the results [that matter],” Guardiola told reporters. “If we are tired of each other then I will not finish this contract. The contract is just paper.
“If I extend, it’s because I have the feeling that we can still play good, like the last two games. We did many good things [in those games] and still have the desire and hunger to do it.
“The moment I feel something is broken, I will resign or not extend.”
City’s players totaled 4,572 minutes on the pitch at the World Cup in Qatar, nearly 1,000 more than any other Premier League team.
Yet, City have picked up a pair of important victories since their return to action, and Guardiola is delighted with how his players have resumed the season.
“You have no idea how people are going to come back from the World Cup,” he added. “They are in 25 degrees.
“And then you come here with this weather, immediately to Elland Road against the most intense team in the Premier League. But they reacted really well. The commitment made me feel that ‘let’s try to do it again.’
“If we don’t do that against these opponents then it won’t be possible. That is the challenge, to do it again. What I’m proud of the most is that we are still there.”
Despite the victory over Leeds, City remain five points behind leaders Arsenal, who are looking to lift their first Premier League title since the ‘Invincibles’ did so in 2004.
But Guardiola is confident his team are capable of catching the Gunners, managed by his protege Mikel Arteta, adding: “Arsenal have done brilliantly and have been better than us so far. Their lead is not 15 or 20 points, we are close.
“Winning four in five years and seeing the way we played at Leeds, after the contenders all won, I see the desire.”