Pep Guardiola is "a little bit more moody" because Manchester City have failed to match the high standards they've set in recent years during the first half of the 2019-20 campaign, according to Kevin de Bruyne.
City successfully defended their Premier League crown ahead of Liverpool last term, pipping their rivals to the finishing post by a single point.
The reigning champions have faltered in pursuit of a third successive title, however, after picking up 35 points from a possible 52 at the start of this season.
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In contrast, leaders Liverpool have amassed 49, with Leicester currently 10 points behind in second, which leaves City with a mountain to climb to maintain their domestic dominance.
Guardiola's men have already dropped as many points as they did in the whole of last season, with defensive issues considered to be undermining their efforts this time around.
A 3-0 victory over Arsenal at Emirates Stadium on Sunday helped to lift the mood around the club after a derby defeat to Manchester United the week before.
De Bruyne, who bagged a superb brace against the Gunners, thinks City's form has affected Guardiola's mood, fuelling speculation over his future at the club.
The Catalan was forced to deny having a break clause in his contract which allows him to walk out on City next summer, but De Bruyne insists rumours are bound to arise "when it's not going well" on the pitch.
"Sometimes he's moody, sometimes he's happy," De Bruyne said after City's latest victory.
"But obviously he's going to be a little bit more moody because we are not doing as well as we did the year before. But I think everyone in a job would be the same.
"For the rest, it's the same. When it's not going well, there are going to be more rumours and people are going to talk more about it. It's all fine, everything is normal."
Next up for City is a Carabao Cup quarter-final tie against Oxford United on Wednesday, with plenty of silverware still up for grabs even if the Premier League slips from their grasp.
Guardiola's men can now look forward to a Champions League last-16 showdown against Real Madrid in February, after learning their fate in the draw on Monday.
They will also begin their defence of the FA Cup in the new year, with De Bruyne eager for City to start performing at their best "week in, week out" once again.
He added: "It is never easy because obviously the goal was going for the title. We know that the gap is big, but I think you're a professional playing at this level and you need to perform week in, week out - even if you don't win it.
"We need to try to find the rhythm. There are two cup competitions to play in plus the Champions League, so this season I don't know, like I said, if it was as easy as 'City are going to win the league' why would we play it?
"Everybody works so hard in this business that whoever is on top at the end of the year deserves it, because they were the best."