Pep Guardiola has said Manchester City will need to take near maximum points from their remaining 10 games of the season to retain the title following their 4-1 win over Manchester United on Sunday.
City led 2-1 at the break before United suffered a second-half capitulation, although caretaker manager Ralf Rangnick denied his players lacked the fight required.
Guardiola’s side won thanks to two goals each from Kevin De Bruyne and Riyad Mahrez, with Jadon Sancho scoring for United. City are on 69 points, six ahead of Liverpool who have a game less, with a goal difference of 50 to 51 for the Merseyside club.
“We are trying to win the Premier League with 10 games to go,” Guardiola said. ” We have to do [claim] almost all the points to be champions. I have a feeling a lot is going to happen until the end of the season – close games are going to happen.
“We are six points ahead but it’s a false lead because they still have a game to play. My dream is to be there until the end [of the race].”
As for United’s second-half display, Rangnick was asked if his players had enough fight in them. “Yes,” he said. “I didn’t feel like they didn’t try but it’s tough against a team like Manchester City when you’re down 3-1 against probably the best team in possession on the planet.
“We played a good first half but we were still 2-1 down so it was clear we still had to try and score one or two goals to have a chance of winning the game. We didn’t. .
“In the second half it was difficult to get them away from our goal so we decided to bring in Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard – two attacking players – and then they scored a brilliant goal from a corner. [a Mahrez half-volley]: it was hard to defend that one. And then, after that, it was a difficult and frustrating match for us because if you chase them high you risk taking another one, two, three times.
United’s loss dropped them to fifth place, 22 points behind City. Rangnick was asked about the rift between United and their Crosstown rivals. “After 28 games you are as far away from each team as the table shows,” he said. “Now for us we have to look to the future and play two good home games against Tottenham and Atlético Madrid.”
Rangnick explained Cristiano Ronaldo’s absence. “Our doctor came to see me on Friday morning before training and told me Cristiano couldn’t train because of hip flexor issues and it was the same on Saturday,” he said.
Edinson Cavani was also injured – for a sixth game in a row. Rangnick denied the idea that the player is unwilling to make himself available. “Edi has been training for the last three days and he’s been training well, but he always felt after those three training sessions that he wasn’t fit to play,” explained the German. “As a coach, I can’t force a player if he doesn’t feel fit to play.
“What does it help if I tell you it’s frustrating? It’s just a fact, if the players tell the doctors they’re not fit and they can’t play, I have to accept it.