Pep Guardiola says Manchester City and Liverpool have raised the bar in what is required to win a Premier League title after a blockbuster campaign by both teams.
If both sides win their remaining three games, Liverpool would finish the campaign on 97 points – the third-highest tally in the Premier League era – and still fail to end their 29-year wait for an English top-flight title because City would have 98.
It is a far cry from the 1996-’97 campaign when Manchester United won the championship with just 75 points.
That means, according to Guardiola, that future champions will need to be aiming towards the magical century, which City achieved last season, to be assured of lifting the trophy. “The standards we created last year at Manchester City, people know that you have to be close to 100,” he told reporters on Friday. “Before it was 90.
“This standard was last season, we helped Liverpool to achieve it this year and Liverpool helped us to keep going, so thanks to Liverpool we are competing.
“Liverpool know that to win you have to make a lot of points. That’s what we communicate to anyone.
“Next season, Chelsea are getting better, Man United, Tottenham. At the end when you are 25 points above United, 22 points ahead of other ones, if they want to stay there you have to improve the standard. It was easier before, everyone can lose to anyone.”
The demanding City manager, still in the hunt to win a first-ever domestic treble in English football, is already challenging his players to maintain their standards next season.
And he invoked the names of some legendary stars from other sports to try and give them an example of how they must maintain their status at the top of the Premier League.
“You know when Usain Bolt makes 100m race – that’s the standard and the others have to achieve it,” he said.
“Like, Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods, that’s the same. One hundred points in a season – if you want to compete you have to do that. I’d sign to maintain that level, I’d sign to do what we have done again in the Premier League, I don’t expect more.
“To push each other, knowing the others are at the same level. Find out what we can do to win the game, after work harder, respect the opponents, improve on what we’ve done this season. That’s the only way I know.”
Guardiola, whose side travel to Burnley on Sunday, also explained his decision to leave England defender John Stones out of his squad entirely for the recent 2-0 victory at Manchester United. Stones has struggled to maintain a regular place in Guardiola’s high-flying team this season.
“It depends on the quality of the players and what I see in the training sessions, if they are happy, a bit more down,” he said. “There are many reasons but it’s not the quality because I know them and I know that always they compete good.”