Guardiola said greater familiarity with his methods, plus lavish player recruitment in the summer, make him confident City will not dip as they did last season. “I am delighted, so happy,” he said. “There are many things we are doing now that we didn’t do last season.”
The City manager attributed last term’s 10-match winning start to a temporary feelgood factor rather than the more substantial excellence he has seen in a week in which his team have scored 15 goals in three games, the win at Watford coming on the back of victories over Liverpool and Feyenoord.
“Last season there was new enthusiasm with a new manager and new players and everybody expecting [a lot]. Now we are more stable, we know each other better. And the new players have come to help us be better. The fundamentals of what we do are the same but the difference is we have good balance, good players and good spirit.
“Day by day I say thank you to the club – to all the people involved for buying these players. All managers have their own good ideas of how to play but without these players that we have right now, it’s more complicated.”
Guardiola cited, in particular, the full-backs on whom City spent over £100m in the summer, indicating that Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy have been integral to City’s improved balance.
The manager also offered special praise for Sergio Agüero, who scored a hat-trick at Vicarage Road to draw within two goals of City’s all-time record scorer, Eric Brook. “He will beat it and hopefully we will have a good celebration for him because he is a legend, part of the history of our club.”
It was not always obvious Agüero would continue to thrive after Guardiola’s arrival. Last season he criticised the Argentinian, insisting the striker needed to make himself even more useful to the team. Guardiola said Agüero has responded as expected and is now much more than a goal-scorer even if he is as prolific as ever.
“He always had that, he just needed to get more involved a little bit in the game,” Guardiola said. “He’s a guy you can encourage to play, not just to score goals. I like to have defenders who do not just defend and attackers who do not just score. Everybody has to play. I like to see everybody moving and wanting the ball, not to be there waiting for a situation to come. All our strikers are involved now.”
Marco Silva admitted City were superior but suggested Agüero’s first goal was offside, along with the one by Gabriel Jesus. “City are strong enough to come here and create a lot of problems for us and win as they want without offside goals,” the Watford manager said.
Guardiola remains aware City have proved nothing yet: “This is very good period, I am curious to see how we react when things are not so good.”
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