It sounds incredible, right? But it is true. Pep Guardiola is expecting a defeat for Manchester City.
The boss stated this while speaking ahead of the game against Tottenham. Although the team beat Jose Mourinho’s men convincingly, it is a prophecy that will come true sooner or later. So he is only preparing the players’ minds for the inevitable.
A defeat can sometimes be catastrophic for a high-flying team. It can shatter the players’ confidence and lead to a downward spiral. The house can come crashing down in just a matter of weeks as can be seen with Liverpool at the moment.
So preparing the players to not only expect it but respond appropriately to it as a normal occurrence can be great psychology.
The City boss broke the news to the players while reflecting on the team’s performance so far. Starting the campaign with some poor results, the side has picked up the pace and gone on an 18-game unbeaten run in all competitions; 15 games unbeaten in the Premier League and 14 straight wins in all competitions.
Coincidentally, City’s last defeat came against Tottenham back in November 2020. Two uninspiring draws against Manchester United and West Brom followed two games later.
“We could’ve won [against West Brom] with two incredible chances at the end but after that game, I felt this is not the team I can recognise myself,” Guardiola said ahead of Saturday’s clash with Tottenham. “I didn’t like what I watched, I didn’t like what I saw.
“We talked with Juanma, Rodo, Manel and Txiki and we said, ‘OK, we have to come back to our first principle,’ and we had to reconstruct the team from that point. What we are as a team, how we had success in the past.
“We had to come back to our game, move the ball quicker, do more passes, stay in position, run less with the ball, do it together. We don’t have a specific player to win games, we have to do it together.
“But above all that was the commitment of the players. They talked, they thought, ‘OK we have to do more’ and they did it.
“After that, we didn’t press ourselves too much. We just said to win the next game, don’t think we are in a position to win the Premier League or whatever, we are not good enough to compete right now. Win the next game with our principles and see what happened.
“Everyone dropped points and we didn’t do it. What we want to do is continue with those principles as long as possible.
“A defeat is coming. It is going to come. This is exceptional because this has never before been done since English football started.
“We came back to what I said from day one when I arrived here. We have to do this, this, this. The results and the qualities of the players did the rest.”
That the team is flying at the moment does not mean it will continue without some setbacks along the way. The most important thing is to realise that the setbacks are coming and then prepare for them. Responding appropriately to such setbacks can make all the difference. It can be the difference between having an average season and an extraordinary one.
That is football. And like life itself, it is what it is.