Pep Guardiola has claimed Manchester City won’t win the title playing the grinding style of football which finally wore down Crystal Palace.
The Spaniard and his players crossed the Selhurst Park pitch to celebrate Saturday’s hard-fought 2-1 win with with their fans after Yaya Toure’s comeback double.
The joyful scenes were reminiscent of Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side throwing their shirts into the crowd at Blackburn in February 2005 on the way to his first title.
But the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich coach wants more brain than brawn from his side.
And the great footballing sophisticate, who is trying to line up Lionel Messi for next season , said he was happier with the performance in the home draw against Middlesbrough that preceded the international,break, if not the result.
“I want to be honest with you — we cannot win the title if we play the way we did today,” he said.
“The players know that because they have played really, really good [in other games] and they know that if we play that way we can achieve our targets.
“We cannot forget that a few weeks ago we beat the best team in Europe [Barcelona] but there are games during the season like today, after the international break, where you are not brilliant. Today we were not brilliant.
“I know that, but also to achieve the titles you have to win the games when you play in that way.”
Guardiola, whose team had won only two of their previous nine games in all competitions, added: “Today, maybe, was a good step, but in the long-term you have to play better.
“Sometimes it can happen once but when it happens often at the end you are going to lose.
“I am more satisfied when we play against Middlesbrough for example, against Everton, even Tottenham in the second half, than today, but you have to win. Huge compliment to the team because you have to win these kind of games and they did it.”
Toure had not appeared since a Champions League qualifier on August 24 after a row between his agent Dimitri Seluk and his head coach. Guardiola sold him to City in 2010 and he does not fit the Spaniard’s high energy gameplan.
But the 33-year-old showed with his range of passing and goalscoring touch – which has helped City to win two Premier League titles – that he is suited to the English game.
Toure scored two in his first league game this season — including the 83rd minute winner (Photo: Getty)
He scored his first goal since March after 36 minutes when his shot deflected in off James Tomkins – and was then on hand to tap in Kevin De Bruyne’s later corner after Connor Wickham’s equaliser.
Guardiola insisted he had no regrets about his hardline policy with Toure – who is not available for Wednesday’s Champions League tie at Borussia Monchengladbach.
But he said the midfielder could yet need his passport in the New Year.
“If we are able to qualify in the Champions League, after, I will sit with my staff and we will decide who are the best players to help us to achieve in the Champions League games.”
Palace striker Christian Benteke said: “Yaya is a world-class player. He wanted to show he still has a place in this team. And he did that – unfortunately for us.”
The three points drew City level on points with Liverpool at the top of the table. Toure said: “City have been involved in the title race all year and I think we have to keep going because of the other teams around us.
“My prediction is that it will be like 2014. Fighting until the end and we have to continue to keep going.”
Vincent Kompany’s latest comeback ended after 36 minutes following a sickening collision with his own keeper Claudio Bravo.
“He is not lucky but that is football,” said fellow Belgian Benteke.
“He has to stay strong. I think he is a big boy and a professional and he will come through it.”