Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Pep Guardiola celebrated his first Premier League title, following Manchester City’s goalless draw with Huddersfield Town on Sunday, by immediately turning his attention to defending the trophy next season.
The demanding City manager brought seven of his coaching staff onto the podium for his post-match press conference, a symbolic nod towards a close-knit group that has masterminded one of the most dominant league performances in history.
Despite surprisingly failing to defeat struggling visitors Huddersfield, City still have two games left in which they can set new Premier League records for the most wins, points and goals in a single campaign.
That target still inspires Guardiola, but so too does the prospect of trying to win the league title again next season.
“We cannot deny it would be nice to set records but it’s nicer when you win the Premier League,” said Guardiola.
“We spoke about that, these targets help to be focused, we tried and it’s so difficult,” he added.
“It looks easy when you have to win games, but next season will be tougher, they’ll all want to beat us and we have to be focused. we have to understand how difficult it will be next season.”
– ‘Feel loved’ –
Guardiola has only one season remaining on the three-year contract he signed at City in the summer of 2016.
The Catalan said before the Huddersfield game he was in no hurry to sign an extended deal but after leading City to their third title since 2012, Guardiola insisted he is happy in Manchester.
“I feel so comfortable here, we feel we are loved,” he said.
“It’s a club with not a long tradition but in six or seven years, three Premier Leagues is not bad and to win it the way we did it, that’s why we are so satisfied.”
Having been assured of the title three weeks earlier, after West Brom’s surprise win at Manchester United, City had to wait until the visit of David Wagner’s struggling team to be presented with the trophy.
City laid on pre-match festivities, including survivors from their 1968 championship winning team, before Huddersfield provided dogged opposition and dampened the celebrations somewhat.
– ‘Big admirer’ –
On the final whistle, and after unwanted pitch invaders had been removed, City were finally presented with the trophy along with the usual attendant pyrotechnics, confetti and smoke machines — all standard stuff but a far cry from the drama of their first Premier League title, won when Sergio Aguero scored with virtually the last kick of the season in 2012.
“Every team who wins the Premier League does it their way and that’s what we did too,” said Guardiola.
“When you win a final or Aguero in the last minutes it’s something special.
“Here we’ve had time to accept it and I was surprised how we maintained our focus.”
Impressive Huddersfield might even have escaped with a victory in the closing minutes when substitute Scott Malone raced through only to shoot directly at Emerson in the City goal.
The point is a huge boost for Huddersfield, who operate on the Premier League’s lowest budget, and their attempts to avoid relegation.
“I congratulated Pep for what he has done in England,” said Huddersfield manager Wagner. “Not only that he won the title but how he won it. It has been so impressive.
“I am a big admirer for his style of football. I love to watch his team. This is what I said to him before the game because I thought I may not get time after because the people will come on the pitch.”