Guardiola admits he was not proud of unrecognisable Man City at the start of the season

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Pep Guardiola
The Spaniard says he had to remind his players of the club's core playing principles after a slow start to the 2020-21 campaign

Pep Guardiola has admitted that he was not proud of his "unrecognisable" Manchester City side at the start of the season.

City are marching relentlessly towards their fifth Premier League title at the moment, having opened up a 12-point lead over second-placed Leicester City with a game in hand still to play.

The Blues were ninth in the table and eight points behind leaders Liverpool after a 1-1 with West Brom in December, but Guardiola has overseen a remarkable run of 21 successive wins since that fixture, having been forced to lay down the law during a testing period.

What's been said?

"It was not just that specific West Brom game. It was the last games before West Brom," Guardiola told Sky Sports ahead of City's derby clash with Manchester United at Etihad Stadium on Sunday.

"Always I am a spectator - I am a manager but a spectator. I want to enjoy, I want to see my team playing the way the team must play, and I didn't watch it for a long, long time.

"I lost in Barcelona, I lost in Munich, but always I recognise my team, and in that period, I could not recognise it, I didn't like it.

"Sometimes we have one or two days to reflect, I talked with my backroom staff, we discussed many things and talked about the process of what to do.

"I said 'guys, we did it here in England, we did it in Germany and Spain as well, so we just come back to our principles, do what we have to do and try to do it again'.

"There's no guarantee to win games but at least we'll be proud, we'll recognise what we want to be, the way we want to live, and after, it's one game, another win, the confidence rises, the trust rises and that helps us to be in the position we are."

City's remarkable resurgence

City only picked up 20 points from their opening 12 Premier League fixtures, but have won their next 15 to storm clear of their rivals at the top of the standings.

Arsenal, Tottenham, Liverpool and Chelsea have all been swept aside during that run, while progress has also been made in the FA Cup, Carabao Cup and Champions League.

Guardiola's men saw off United at Old Trafford to reach the final of the League Cup and avoided upsets against Cheltenham and Swansea to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals.

City have also put one foot in the last eight of the Champions League by beating Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 in the first leg of their round of 16 tie.

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The bigger picture

Guardiola will almost certainly pick up the third Premier League crown of his reign at the Etihad come May, and his side are also on course to emulate their 2018-19 domestic treble heroics.

The possibility of an unprecedented quadruple is still on the cards too, and if Guardiola can keep the core of his squad intact over the coming weeks few would bet against him ending the club's long wait for glory in Europe's elite competition.

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