MANCHESTER — Pep Guardiola has looked back into the history books to prove that the Premier League isn’t over despite Manchester City’s 12-point lead at the top of the table.
City maintained their advantage over second-placed Manchester United on Saturday with a 3-1 victory over Newcastle United and ironically it’s the Magpies who have proved an inspiration to the Catalan coach.
In 1996, Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle were 12 points clear in January but they were overhauled weeks later by United, who went on to win the title by four points in one of the most dramatic collapses in English football.
City have the best ever points tally after 24 games of the season, but suffered their first defeat last week at Liverpool and Guardiola says it shows they can’t take anything for granted.
“I read Newcastle dropped a 12-point advantage years ago and United won the league. Two months ago, I heard that the Premier League is done,” he told a news conference.
“I can imagine today if we drop points and are nine or 10 points in front of United the people start: ‘OK, that is true’ but it is true even with 12 points.
“It is important to see the personality, the team and try to do the things and with mistakes or no mistakes that is the power of football, the desire to try. Never, I didn’t see it this season and that is why I am so proud to be their manager.”
City need 31 points to be certain of securing the Premier League crown and Guardiola is targeting 11 wins from their final 14 matches.
That would better Chelsea’s 95-point record for most Premier League points in a season set in 2005 and the City boss says it is better to focus on reaching that target rather than looking back at their 18-game winning streak or defeat to Liverpool.
“We have two chances with that, to see what happened behind or to see what happens in the 11 games we have to win,” he added.
“The best way is to [look] forward so what happened happened. I said to them, until fixture 24 we were the best team. But that doesn’t count. It counts after fixture 38.
“Still we have 14 games and [want to] win 10 or 11 games so it will be tough. Every team plays for something, to stay here, for Europa League, for Champions League and be focused.
“I said ‘don’t look back, don’t look at our contenders behind, look at what we have to achieve’ because if you try to watch what happened behind, if we look at what they do, that is not a good solution from my experience