LONDON, Jan 15: Pep Guardiola has waved the white flag in the title race by admitting Manchester City’s Premier League hopes are over.
The Blues boss suffered the worst league defeat of his management career when they were battered, beaten and eventually humiliated by a rampant Everton.
It was their second defeat on Merseyside in a fortnight, and their fourth Premier League defeat in their last eight games, and after consistently refusing to give up catching leaders Chelsea despite their indifferent form, Guardiola now knows it is over.
When asked if the title is over, he replied: “The first place, yeah. The first one is a 10-point gap and that is a lot of course.
“The second second place is three points, so we have to see. I spoke with the players for the last three weeks to forget about the table.”
“Focus on the next game and do our best. After that, at the end of the season, we’ll analyse how our level was, our performance, the coach, the players. After that we are going to decide.”
Guardiola defiantly suggested that City were desperately unlucky in the game after dominating the opening half, and were undone by a sucker punch when Romelu Lukaku scored brilliantly with Everton’s first real attempt on goal.
Yet the reality was the visitors simply caved in after Kevin Mirallas scored a fine second a minute after the break, showing a complete lack of fight and spirit as their fragile defence was again exposed by the dominant Lukaku.
Guardiola though, believes the problems are not in defence – despite this 4-0 drubbing – but in attack when his side fail to take their many chances.
Asked what he can change, he said: “The consistency in clean sheets depends on how we create in front. If we scored the two or three goals in the first half then you go ‘we deserved that’.
“The defence is not the reason why, it is a consequence of the way you attack. If are clinical then the midfield players are confident. Football is a mix for absolutely everything.
“It would be a huge mistake to blame everything on one person, but of course this is the first time I’ve conceded a lot of goals. It’s never happened before. That’s why I have to know the reason why.”
While City were left devastated by another Mersey misery, Everton were jubilant after a fine display, capped by late goals from their brilliant teenagers Tom Davies and sub Ademola Lookman.
Davies showed poise and class to dink a brilliant third over hapless City keeper Claudio Bravo, and even though Lukaku tried to claim it after attempting to touch the ball as it went over the line, the 18 year old showed confidence when he insisted: “Rom is still trying to claim it but there is no chance. It’s mine, isn’t it?
“He is a striker and he wants all the goals he can get because he is going for top goalscorer but its mine – no chance he’s getting that off me. He said he was as we came off, but it’s definitely mine.
“It was surreal. I thought my touch was too heavy but I got on the end of it and just lifted it over him. I couldn’t believe it was actually happening and then to celebrate with the fans was a dream come true.”AGENCIES