Pep Guardiola says that retaining the Premier League title will remain Manchester City’s overriding priority this season.
Fresh from having created history last term in winning all four English trophies, the curtain rises on the 2019/20 campaign on Sunday when City tackle last season’s league runners-up Liverpool in the Community Shield at Wembley.
The Merseysiders, of course, tasted success of their own too last season in securing the Champions League.
This season though City have the opportunity to become only the second club to secure three consecutive Premier League titles.
And asked at his pre-match press conference whether achieving glory in Europe would instead now become the Club’s priority this term, the City boss was unequivocal in his response
“The Premier League is the focus,” Guardiola declared.
“The Champions League is an important tournament and difficult to win but I don’t want to go the casino and gamble everything for seven games.
“I want to be happy for every game for 11 months. When I win the Premier League, I am happy. I feel better so I work better with my players. For seven games from February it’s too risky.
“For the health and focus of the team it’s the Premier League, the Premier League is the focus. It’s the most important thing because it’s every weekend.
“The other ones are one moment, you can be inches offside, inches onside. In one or two games anything can happen.
“We are trying to build it (success in Europe) and when you win the Premier League you get closer and that is the right process.
“But if I could sign up for something right now it would be the Premier League. Definitely.”
Guardiola was also asked about the fact that despite the Club’s remarkable success last term, no City player had been included in the short-list for the men’s category of the Best FIFA Football Awards which were announced earlier this week.
However, the City boss – who was nominated in the manager of the year category - said that fellow professionals across the continent and further afield did recognise the quality and achievement of the work of his players.
“My colleagues worldwide know how difficult it is to do what we have done (winning four trophies in one season),” Guardiola added.
“Never has it been done before, it was awesome.
“Behind it is a lot of work, incredible work in every department. The CFA, the doctors, physios, the staff, the players, everyone…
“All professionals know what we have done and how difficult it is.
“Four titles in one season, it’s the first time in history. I would take it again, to win four titles and not the Champions League but I’m pretty sure it’s not going to happen.
“It doesn't matter what people think, or what happens with awards. I don't think a player had a better season than Bernardo Silva, for example and he won (the European Nations League) with Portugal.
“This club has won four Premier Leagues in eight years which is quite remarkable
“The year when we made 100 points, huge respect for Mohammed Salah (who won the PFA award that season) but Kevin De Bruyne was above and beyond the normal way of things.
“But it’s opinions and we accept that other players deserve it.”