It’s late December, and Manchester City are trailing top-of-the-table Liverpool by 14 points after Pep Guardiola side’s late collapse fueled Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 3-2 comeback on Friday.
This is far from what anyone associated with the defending champions expected by this time of year, but as the Spaniard boss says, it has been his team’s new reality for some time now – chasing Liverpool (Leicester City) for the top position in the league. To the BBC and Amazon Prime:
“It is big for a long time,” Guardiola said after his side’s second, league loss of December. “It is not realistic to think about the title race. I have been asked the question for a long time and it is the same answer.”
As expected, 10-man City were outmatched in virtually every match stat on Friday, losing possession by more than 20 percent. Raheem Sterling put the visitor’s up by two goals in the 50th minute, but a late surge from Wolves – fueled by Raul Jimenez, Adama Traore and Nuno Espirito Santo‘s substitutions – buckled the defending champions.
Guardiola recognizes that such crumble was due to having one less player on the field, but that his staff and his player’s can’t dwell too much on the loss or the fact that they’re 14 points behind the Reds.
“Eighty minutes 10 against 11 is so tough, so demanding. We could not defend the result. We have to think of the next game and about winning our games. It’s unrealistic to think about that [catching Liverpool]. In 48 hours we have another game.”
Similar to the initial tone of Guardiola, Bernardo Silva admitted that a once-in-a-lifetime comeback to win the title is going to be “very difficult” for the back-to-back champions to pull off.
“It is a really bad situation for us. A frustrating first half of the season. Nobody expected us to be this far away from Liverpool at this halfway point. We have to continue now. We know that winning the title is very complicated. I wouldn’t say impossible but very difficult.”
Just like Guardiola says that it’s unrealistic for City to dream about winning the title, it might be unrealistic to think that Liverpool aren’t going to win it all.