Pep Guardiola claimed that Manchester City have behaved like Cheshire cats and needed ‘a shake’ to wake them up.
City are on their worst run of form in the Premier League since 2017 and lie six points behind Arsenal at the start of their third straight title defence.
Guardiola insisted that the club’s critics have short memories – City are adept at hunting down leaders after New Year – and believes the dip in results was a necessity.
The Catalan suggested that the entire club have appeared too pleased with themselves after the heroics of completing an historic Treble, and warned they face a battle to make the top four.
‘For a long time, we’ve lived like a cat (strokes hair) and how good we are,’ Guardiola said. ‘We need it to say guys this business, it’s terrible. It’s terrible. You are unbeatable and then oh my God, you cannot win one game. From nothing.
‘One month ago I thought the club needed a shake, to be shaken. The bad results can help you to live that. I think for everyone it is good, living what we are living. I would say I think it’s necessary to live that.
‘The players it’s a good challenge to say, “oh my God, Aston Villa were miles better than all of us.” That is the only thing that can put it in the right place.
‘Not (just) my words, it doesn’t work. Say, “WOW, Villa were better so imagine the other ones.” The club, all the organisation, (know) we can be out of the Champions League next season, we have to work hard.’
City drew against Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham before being soundly beaten by Aston Villa on Wednesday night. Guardiola refuted Gary Neville’s suggestion that they were suffering from complacency earlier in the week and doubled down on that before facing Luton Town on Sunday.
‘It's not about complacency,’ he added. ‘Complacency is about arriving late to training, not training good, not doing a good job, (and thinking it) doesn't matter what happens.
‘I'm talking about just the bad results, see how difficult it is what we have done (in the past). The bad results help you to understand it.
‘Even for the media, for the fans, say “oh my god, they lose.” Four games without winning, it can be five, six. It can happen. Fans realise what they have done, this group of people… chapeau.
‘All the people say in October, November, “oh, City are going to win.” We make standards that people want to be there. I see the hunger in the opponents’ eyes. I see it.
‘You know how we struggled last season, being eight, nine or 10 points behind Arsenal. And how we struggled with injuries. Then the Treble. It’s the same team right now. Before Wolves, we were one game away from the best start ever.’