‘Playing at an incredible level’: Guardiola bullish despite defeats

Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City may be in the “best moment” of his five years as manager, despite defeat in the past two matches by West Ham and Crystal Palace.

The reverse at West Ham was in the Carabao Cup via a penalty shootout but Palace won 2-0 in the Premier League with a convincing display when City were reduced to 10 men and decidedly second-best.

Guardiola said he was content before his side host Club Brugge in Wednesday’s Champions League group game. “We are playing at an incredible level – the way we have been playing in the last month, month and a half,” he said.

“I would say one of the best moments, maybe the best moment since we’ve been here. The results are many things, circumstances, and we have to improve. Our solidity, in terms of the process, we are doing really, really well.”

Guardiola denied any frustration that results have not recently matched quality. “Football is a game where you win and lose. I’m only concerned about the way we play. Defeat was tough but we know the calendar, how busy it is. We want to finish this run well with the [Manchester] United game [on Saturday] before the international break.”

City beat Brugge 5-1 two weeks ago and are second in Group A, a point behind Paris Saint-Germain and two ahead of the Belgian club.

“This is more important than United – this game gives us an incredible possibility to make a step forward to qualify for the last 16,” Guardiola said. “In the Premier League there are many games; in this competition just six [in the group] and now three left: they are decisive, three and four – the most important games.”

Despite stating City are in their best moment, Guardiola found fault when reviewing the win at Brugge. “Some things we have to improve: defensively, our pressing, it’s normal, every game,” he said. “I saw the game against Brugge and saw many bad things we have done.”

Kyle Walker, who played in the match, said the squad might discover later on Tuesday what the manager meant. “We will have to wait for today’s training session and find out,” the said. “He has probably been doing his homework and picked up on something to help the team.”

Walker is confident Jack Grealish, who cost a British record £100m will find his best form, having scored twice and made three assists in 14 appearances. “I can assure you he is a nightmare for defenders,” Walker said. “He has not played badly, he’s probably not quite hit the assists and goal levels he was getting at Aston Villa, but we like to share the load here.”