Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has admitted his side failed to match Liverpool’s desperation for the Premier League title after defeat at Chelsea confirmed his squad had been dethroned.
Liverpool finally sealed their first top-flight crown since 1990 courtesy of Chelsea’s 2-1 victory over City at Stamford Bridge.
Christian Pulisic’s smart finish and a cool Willian penalty subdued Guardiola’s men in west London, with Kevin De Bruyne’s fine free-kick in vain and captain Fernandinho sent off for handball.
Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool can now toast their maiden Premier League triumph, with Guardiola conceding that City could not equal the Reds’ desire this term.
‘Maybe we didn’t arrive with the same passion; Liverpool played every single game like it was the last chance they have,’ said Guardiola.
‘And maybe we didn’t get that moment, especially the key moments in the first part of the season.
‘That is the reality, that we are so far behind.
‘We’ll have to recover for next season, to be more consistent, and recover the points we missed this season.
‘That’s the reality. Two years ago we were 25 points ahead of Liverpool, and now they are this distance ahead.
‘We cannot forget that we won two titles. This is incredible success for us, for the club; the last six, seven, eight years.
‘So we have to take a little perspective, be humble, and say “not all the time we can win”.
‘And then we must learn what we need to do to avoid this situation again.’
City travel to Newcastle in the FA Cup on Sunday, but then must endure the painful experience of hosting champions Liverpool at the Etihad Stadium on Thursday, July 2.
Asked whether the hurt of slipping so far behind Liverpool this season must sting City into a response next term, Guardiola replied: ‘Yeah of course it should be, but now we have I would say still five, six weeks of competition, especially Sunday with the FA Cup.
‘It’s important to get to the semi-finals of the FA Cup, get qualification for the Champions League, and after that the Champions League itself.
‘I’ve never thought “always we can win”, but we can say, the last 10 competitions we played as a club we won eight titles.
‘That’s never happened before in this country. You cannot win all the time and always.
‘We missed one important central defender. That was a real big problem for us, and we didn’t show the consistency that we need to play better.
‘So I’ve never thought in my life that always you can win.
‘What we have done in the last three seasons is incredible. And it’s so difficult to maintain this.’