Pep Guardiola says Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Juventus have been the best three clubs of the last decade and has challenged Manchester City to match their consistency.
Guardiola's Man City side are still in all four competitions after beating Burnley 5-0 in the FA Cup on Saturday and afterwards Guardiola was asked why he has consistently ruled out the possibility of winning an unprecedented quadruple.
On Friday the Catalan dismissed the idea as “fantasy”, and when asked again post-match he set a different target for his team.
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Despite Real Madrid having won three Champions League titles in a row, Guardiola insists Barca, Bayern and Juve are the benchmark for his side, because they combine winning their domestic competitions with European challenges.
“I've said many times,” he replied when asked about the prospect of a quadruple. “I know you are so generous and thank you so much guys, but every time you make that comment we lose a competition. I think you provoke me in that way.
“It's important now that at the end of January we are still there. At the big clubs, that is the big difference.
“I've said many times: what are the best teams in the last decade? Juventus, Bayern Munich, Barcelona. These are the three best teams in Europe. Why? Because every season they win the league, every season they win the cups, every season they are there. Because they are the best.
"We can - not get close to them, because it's difficult - but imitate them. Being in the competition until the last stages. Sometimes you are lucky, sometimes not, but be there. That's what I want. Premier League, until the end. Carabao Cup final back to back? Chapeau, hats off to my players. Cup today, we win the game and get through. Prepare for Schalke (in the Champions League last 16). That is when you become a better team and a better club.
“The best teams have to imitate these three teams, not the other ones.”
And he later returned to the theme: “When I said Bayern Munich, Juventus, Barcelona are the best, it's because it doesn't matter what happened before, they go again. That's the most difficult thing. Win one title, two titles, that can happen. But that consistency, every three days for 11 months during 10 years, that's what I respect and admire the most. That will be my dream. Every single game and competition we try to do that. And so far, we have done it.”
Guardiola also urged his players to relish the opportunity to fight for four trophies, despite the inevitable fixture pile-up that lies ahead.
City's game against Everton at Goodison Park, for example, was due to be played the weekend of the Carabao Cup final, but has now been brought forward to February 6 - between games against Arsenal and Chelsea.
And the Manchester derby, pencilled in for March 16, could be pushed back until April or even May if either City or United reach the quarter-finals of the FA Cup.
City will have played 22 games in the space of 79 days by the end of the Chelsea match on February 10, but Guardiola has told his squad to enjoy the "privilege" of playing so many important fixtures, especially as he will not be able to give them any days off.
"When I prepared the schedule between Arsenal and Chelsea, we had eight days. Today I wake up and suddenly we play Everton in between. I cannot give a day off. We have a lot of games, so no way. It is what it is.
"But at the same time I tell them it's a privilege. If you believe it's a handicap, that's a big mistake. It's a privilege. When you are 35 years old you can have long holidays. No problem, you will be retired. Take a year for holidays. But for now it's a privilege. Take it, enjoy it. Next one, win again. The competition doesn't matter. Friendly game? Win again. Play good, prepare well. That's the only way. After, you work for the next season."