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Man City handed brutal reality check, says Pep

AFP – Pep Guardiola said Manchester City’s recent Premier League slump has delivered a much-needed reality check as he prepares for today’s match at lowly Luton.

Guardiola said he and his treble-winning players had enjoyed being stroked “like a cat” for too long during their period of domination and they “needed a shake”.

Manchester City’s head coach Pep Guardiola speaks with his team during a match against Aston Villa. PHOTO: AP

City were outplayed at Aston Villa in their 1-0 defeat on Wednesday – a result that extended their winless run in the Premier League to four games and pushed them down to fourth in the table.

Guardiola’s men, chasing an unprecedented fourth consecutive top-flight title, are now six points behind leaders Arsenal.

“As a manager I sometimes need that, I need that challenge,” Guardiola told a press conference on Friday.

“I think for everyone it is good. I think it’s necessary to live that. For a long time, we’ve lived like a cat (strokes head) and (known) how good we are.

“We need it to say ‘Guys this business – it’s terrible’. You are unbeatable and then, oh my goodness, you cannot win one game – from nothing.

“Maybe for myself first, I need that challenge to prove myself, that I’m a good manager, to help the players overcome that situation.

“For the players it’s a good challenge to say ‘Aston Villa were miles better than all of us, so imagine the other ones’.”

Guardiola, whose team won the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup last season, admitted City could miss out on qualifying for next season’s Champions League. 

“We have to work hard,” he said. “As soon as we realise (it) we come out of here quicker.

“The club needed it. One month ago I thought the club needed a shake, to be shaken. The bad results can help you to live that.”

City will have influential midfielder Rodri back at Kenilworth Road after he completed his latest ban.

The Spaniard has now missed four games through suspension this season and Guardiola’s side have lost them all.  Guardiola again overlooked Kalvin Phillips when selecting his side at Villa Park, fuelling further speculation the England midfielder could leave the club in January.

Phillips has failed to establish himself at the Etihad Stadium since his move from Leeds in 2022. Guardiola said: “I don’t know what will happen. I feel so sorry for my decisions for him. He doesn’t deserve for one second not to have minutes but it’s just that I visualise things and struggle a little to see him.”

Kevin De Bruyne, who has been out since undergoing hamstring surgery in August, has been named in City’s squad for the Club World Cup later this month but it is not yet clear if he will be fit to play.