Pep Guardiola claimed Manchester City “are not the best in the world” despite increasing their Premier League lead to 12 points with a win over Brentford.
As they pulled farther away from second-placed Liverpool, who play Leicester on Thursday, Riyad Mahrez scored his ninth goal in seven games.
Pep Guardiola, on the other hand, stated he “doesn’t care” about “dumb things” like congratulating his team for being better than the competition.
“I’m impressed with [the players’] attitude in so many aspects,” he continued. “They continue to want to do their tasks in every game.
“Normally, they are applauded and praised – “you are the best team in the world,” “you are the best team in the world,” and such such nonsense. You may be perplexed, but we are perfectly normal.
“We aren’t the most talented group on the planet. Chelsea is the best team in the world, and Palmeiras is the best team in the world. I don’t care if we aren’t the best.”
Manchester City has never competed for that title because they did not win the Champions League to qualify.
Despite a difficult start, City were deserving winners over Brentford. After a reckless tackle on Raheem Sterling by Mads Roerslev, Mahrez had the chance to score from the penalty spot, sending David Raya the other way.
After Raya had rolled the ball straight to Sterling on the outside of the box, Kevin de Bruyne scored off the rebound to double City’s advantage after 69 minutes. Raya then denied Sterling with a save he couldn’t hold.
Brentford, who did not make any fresh signings, Even though Christian Eriksen began practicing with them this week after signing a six-month contract, the harsh realities of life in the Premier League are beginning to show.
For the first time since 2006, Thomas Frank’s men have now lost six games in a row in all competitions. When they were in League One, Oldham and Cheltenham were among the clubs who defeated them.
It’s now Liverpool, Manchester United, and City, the defending champions.
Stones is assigned to the right-back position
Guardiola has sprung so many surprise selections over the years that nothing is too surprising.
Even though England’s Kyle Walker was on the bench, they named three central defenders and no traditional right-back.
John Stones was chosen for the position. While it appeared for a time that his job was to switch between a back four and a three-man central defense depending on whether City possessed the ball or not, it soon became clear that his function was far more technical.
On the right touchline, he could be wide, further inside, or threatening the box, echoing what Joao Cancelo was doing on the other side.
Stones curled crosses in from a position similar to De Bruyne’s, which has garnered him a lot of plaudits.
City’s fluidity was so unlike old-school English tactics that it felt like a throwback to ‘Total Football’ and the Netherlands’ golden age under coach Rinus Michels in the 1970s when another defender, Aymeric Laporte, controlled the ball on his chest and rolled a shot narrowly wide of the far post.
Just after half-time, Cancelo sent a shot over the bar before slaloming through the Brentford box and hitting straight at Raya.
It only served to highlight the adaptability of a City side that ended up starting £100 million man Jack Grealish as center-forward after coming off the bench.
Brentford’s work-rate was evident in the first half-hour, as they only allowed City a single shot.
The overall result could have been different if Rico Henry had taken the clear chance to equalize right before the break.
Brentford, though, lack the class to fight against such rivals, despite the hard work of Frank Onyeka in midfield and the speed of Sergi Canos out wide.
Eriksen definitely possesses both of these qualities, as well as the belief that he may revert to his former self.
The Bees are in desperate need of a boost as their losses increase and big home games against Crystal Palace and Newcastle loom before the end of the month.