Pep Guardiola sees no reason why Manchester City shouldn’t be confident ahead of the new season, despite losing the Community Shield to Liverpool.
City lost 3-1 to Jurgen Klopp’s side at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, suffering defeat in the traditional curtain-raiser of the season for the second consecutive year.
Guardiola’s side had more possession (57.3%), more shots on target (eight to four) and had a higher total expected goals (2.27 to 2.03), but Liverpool looked the most point from both teams as they claimed the trophy for the first time under Klopp.
It was only the second Community Shield clash between the clubs, with the head-to-head record now tied at 1-1 following City‘s penalty shoot-out victory at Wembley Stadium in 2019.
Seven of the last eight Community Shield games between the league champions and FA Cup holders have now been won by the cup winners, apart from City’s 2-0 victory over Chelsea in 2018.
While it was a day to forget for City – and in particular new signing Erling Haaland, who put on a frustrated figure throughout and hit the crossbar from six yards out in stoppage time in the second half – Guardiola n there is no doubt about the upcoming campaign.
“There is no reason not to be confident,” Guardiola told a press conference. “What these guys have done, not just in the Premier League, but in the cups, in Europe, a lot of things.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen at the end of the season, but I’m pretty sure I know these guys and they haven’t given up for a second.
“We lost a final, we prefer to win. A lot of respect, credit to the opponent. The standard is what it is, we reach this standard as soon as possible and we maintain it, we maintain it as always.”
When asked how close he thought his team was to peak performance, despite only making two pre-season friendlies before facing Liverpool, Guardiola replied: “Close. We have done some very good things.
“I don’t have the impression, because we know each other so well, that we are far, very far away. But in the end, the games against West Ham and then Bournemouth will dictate our level, how we goes, and in the process, we will correct it, we will improve it; [if we] you have to do it like this or the other way around, it will happen.”
As Haaland struggled, Julian Alvarez impressed from the City bench, scoring his equalizer before Mohamed Salah’s penalty and Darwin Nunez’ header settled the game in Liverpool’s favour.
Yet City’s other newcomer, Kalvin Phillips, hasn’t made his competitive debut.
However, Guardiola didn’t fear being sent off would negatively impact the England midfielder’s confidence.
He said no [Phillips] has confidence. He can play, he is ready to play. It arrived just two weeks ago.
“In this position, we have Rodri, Bernardo [Silva], [Ilkay] Gundogan. Little by little, he will get there. He’s an incredible person. There are a lot of games, he will help.”