Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola believes the club have raised the standard of the Premier League just as Tiger Woods and Jack Nicklaus did in golf and Usain Bolt did in athletics.
City won the title last season with 100 points and this year could retain it with 98 if they win their final three games, starting with Burnley on Sunday. If Liverpool do the same, they will finish second with 97 points.
Asked if the bar has been raised by the two teams, Guardiola said: “The standards we created last year at Manchester City – people know that you have to be close to 100 [to be champions] – before it was 90. This [new] 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 with our performance.
“You know when Usain Bolt wins the 100m race – that’s the standard and the others have to achieve it. Like Jack Nicklaus, Tiger Woods – the same. 100 points in a season – if you want to compete, you have to do that.”
Guardiola would take this same elevated standard next year. “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.” Asked how the level can be repeated, he said: “Find out what we can do to win the game, work harder, respect the opponents, improve on what we’ve done this season. That’s the only way I know.”
City have scored 157 goals in all competitions this season, which sets a record. “It makes me proud,” Guardiola said. “I love to score a lot of goals to respect this game, to show how we want to attack and do it in every game. I’m so proud. We have 157 goals but we don’t have one guy who scored 60, everyone was involved, Sergio [Agüero] and Gabriel [Jesus], they scored a lot, the wingers, attacking midfielders, we cannot score a lot from set pieces because we are a small team.