MANCHESTER — Pep Guardiola has defended the quality of Manchester City’s players and questioned whether he is a good enough coach for them.
The City boss has all-but ruled his side out of the Premier League title race ahead of Saturday’s clash with second-placed Tottenham Hotspur who are three points clear of his side.
City came in for plenty of criticism following their 4-0 defeat to Everton last Sunday but Guardiola said it was disrespectful to say his current squad isn’t what he has been used to with previous clubs Barcelona and Bayern Munich.
“They are good players. I have respect for the guys, so why would I say the guys are not good?” he told a news conference.
“I don’t understand the lack of respect for the professionals when they have amazing players and they are not good enough for me. Maybe I am not good enough for them.
“They are Manchester City players, top players, they have a lot of quality. They showed that many times in the past and this season. I like to work with them and I want to help them and I am going to until my last day here and I want to stay as long as possible more than ever.
“When you say that it is that they don’t have the same quality as Bayern Munich and Barcelona and that teams when they play good they play good.
“The times we play good the passing was much quicker than both teams, but we are not consistent. We win three games and we arrive at the fourth game and we are not sure if we are going to win and that is a big problem.”
Guardiola also said that making regular changes to his defence could have made it difficult for goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to settle into the first team.
The Chilean No. 1 has come in for fierce criticism after the defeat at Goodison Park where the four goals were the only four shots that Everton had on target.
Asked if defensive changes could have contributed to Bravo’s struggles, Guardiola said: “Maybe, maybe. Yeah, maybe.
“[I take] all the responsibility as a manager. You have to accept what happens right now about my job, of course, I’m willing to accept that.
“In the first moment I reacted like ‘Ahhhh it’s a pity,’ the second time I looked at myself, and what I want from my players, to let them know individually what they can do better. So always five minutes after the game finishes I say what can I do to get the team better.
“I never in my life blame bad results [on the players], the reason why, I don’t do it, I never do, say the reason why we lost is because of Claudio Bravo. It’s one of the reasons why, but there are many many other reasons why.”
Jonathan is ESPN FC’s Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.