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Guardiola rules out prioritising Champions League as Man City's title challenge falters

6:30 AM SGT 9/12/19
Pep Guardiola Man City 2019
The champions trail Liverpool by 14 points after their derby defeat to Manchester United, but their manager insists they cannot think about Europe

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City cannot prioritise the Champions League and need to get back to winning ways quickly.

City’s hope of a third successive Premier League title took another huge blow on Saturday when a 2-1 defeat at home to Manchester United saw them fall 14 points behind leaders Liverpool.

They face Dinamo Zagreb on Wednesday in their final Champions League group-stage game with a seeded place in the knockout stages already secured.

Guardiola says he is not thinking about any silverware at present, just about getting his side to improve their performances after just two wins in their last seven matches.

“We are not thinking to win the Champions League,” he said when asked if it had become the priority. “We are trying to win games, to win the next one.

“I am not thinking about how many points we need or how many points they have to drop.

“We are not able to be consistent like we were in the last two seasons so that is the reality and you have to help the players.”

City were picked off easily in the first half of the Manchester derby by counter-attacks from United’s speedy front three.

And Guardiola warned that is the type of quality they need to be able to cope with if they are to have any hope in Europe.

“It is United, United have the quality to defend and the quality to attack on the counter-attack,” he said.

“And you have to accept that but that is the level we face against Liverpool, United, Barcelona, Madrid, Juventus, that is the teams we have to face and the reality is maybe we are not able now to compete with them so we have to improve and accept it and move forward.

“I could come here and complain for many things, I have reasons to complain, my guys or the guys who are quite often here don’t happen, and maybe we need to live that as a club to improve, to accept the reality now and improve.”

City's total of 32 points from 16 games represents the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach's worst ever start to a season as a manager.

And the Catalan insists his side have no excuses, with their disappointing start compounded by Liverpool’s brilliant form.

“Being 14 points behind, no, it is the first time. As a football player, maybe. As a manager, no,” he admitted.

“The reality is we are 14 points [behind] for the mistakes we have done, for the quality of our opponents and especially as well the things we cannot control. That is the reality but we have to continue.

“We are at the beginning of December and we have other competitions to play and other games to fight and improve on that and maybe it is going to help us for the future, so we need to live that as a club to be better.”