After his latest success, Pep Guardiola admits he “won’t chase” Alex Ferguson when it comes to Premier League Manager of the Month awards.
A dominant December saw the Manchester City boss claim his 11th monthly prize in England, rising to third spot in the all-time rankings.
That sits behind Arsenal legend Arsene Wenger on 15, and Ferguson, the godfather of cross-town rival Manchester United, way out in front on 27.
In his prematch press conference ahead of this weekend’s clash with Chelsea, Guardiola reacted to his own rise to third: “Be careful, Sir Alex, Arsene — I’m coming!”
But once he was given the news of Ferguson’s 27, his prediction soon changed: “How many?!
“OK, it belongs to him. I will not chase him, for sure!”
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Guardiola also dismissed the importance of the award, instead praising his troops: “This is the easiest award ever.
“The most points in a month is the manager of the month. It’s simple. And the reason we won is not the manager — it’s the players.”
‘Out of this world’
Although City has now raced into a 10-point lead at the top of the table, Guardiola also spoke of his current three-way title race, alongside Chelsea and Liverpool.
The Catalan coach suggested it’s the first time in his career he’s faced anything more than a single threat — but that is mainly down to the incredibly pace set by Jurgen Klopp and himself in recent years.
Guardiola said: “At Barcelona, it was Madrid. At Bayern, it was Dortmund. Here, yeah, in the last few years it was Liverpool and ourselves.
“Now this season, Chelsea [are challenging] — but I have to say it’s because Liverpool and Man City were exceptional [previously]. Not because the other ones were wrong.
“United was close, I remember one year with [Jose] Mourinho and last season especially with Ole [Gunnar] Solskjaer.
“They were really good — but we were exceptional.
“What Liverpool and Man City has done in the last three or four years, it was never seen before in this country. Never, ever. More than 90 points to be champions, when before it was 78, 82, 86, 87.
“I think Antonio Conte with Chelsea started a little bit when they won the league, in my first season here. But after, Liverpool and City made a step.
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“I think they did well, the other opponents — Chelsea, United, Tottenham — they did well. But Liverpool and City were out of this world.
“I’m proud of the five years of success. In January, [my players] are still there in every single game competing.
“What happened after being champions, the next season, for the last 10 champions? Take a review. The last 10 champions, the next season they drop, and drop massively.
“We are there. And that is incredible credit to these exceptional players. My job is to put my words behind them and tell them the truth.”