Pep Guardiola believes the generally glowing public perception of Manchester City’s performance does not always match his own assessment of the Premier League leaders.
City were held 1-1 at Burnley on Saturday – Johann Gudmundsson’s late goal cancelling out Danilo’s scorching opener – allowing Manchester United to cut their lead atop the table to 13 points.
Guardiola described City’s performance at Turf Moor as “almost perfect”, although his side failed to convert a number of fine chances, most notably Raheem Sterling contriving to miss an open goal from point-blank range.
Sean Dyche’s men battled back into the match in the closing stages, Ederson making a magnificent save to tip an Aaron Lennon drive on to the post, leaving Guardiola impressed with the Clarets.
Guardiola told reporters: “Sometimes we play s*** and win 1-0 and people say, ‘oh, how good is Manchester City because they won 1-0’.
“You see that after 95 minutes the result is 1-1, okay. You analyse what happened over the 90 minutes – I could not expect that Burnley would make one or two shots on target. Believe me, I expected more.
“That’s why I give credit to the way we defended. It is not easy when there are long balls and balls you cannot press. Putting it in the channels, corners, free-kicks – they are the masters of that. They are so, so good.”
Guardiola accepted, however, a failure to kill the match off by adding to Danilo’s wonderful strike cost City two points on the day, his side dropping points in only a fourth Premier League game this term.
“It is my feeling that if we had been able to score the second goal in the first 30 minutes of the second half, even in the first half, the game would have been for our side,” the Catalan added.
“The game was there. I did not have the feeling we were not good, I don’t have the feeling we did not work in the way we have over the past month.
“Of course, we didn’t win. We are sad and if you judge about the result… But compliments to Burnley because what they do, they do really, really well.”
Guardiola rejected the suggestion drawing with Burnley indicated City needed to bring in attacking reinforcements during the January transfer window, with a late move for Leicester City winger Riyad Mahrez falling through after primary target Alexis Sanchez switched to Manchester United.
City were without talisman David Silva due to injury, with Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus also unavailable, leading Guardiola to only name six substitutes on his bench.
“January is the past,” Guardiola said. “Gabriel is coming back, Leroy is coming back and all we can do is play in that way. Another day, with less chances and we are going to score.”