Pep Guardiola has put his Manchester City players on notice that they are playing for their futures.
At the end of a week which saw Joao Cancelo make a shock departure from the Etihad to join Bayern Munich on-loan, the City boss warned that the Portuguese full-back won’t be the only one heading for the Etihad exit if standards drop.
Guardiola criticised players and fans for allowing success to go to their heads after City produced a storming second-half comeback to beat Tottenham 4-2 last month.
And as the champions prepare to try to win their first point at the fourth time of asking at the new White Hart Lane, the Catalan has once again told his team that second best is not good enough.
Guardiola said: “What happened with Joao makes it look like everyone is going to leave - and I’m not saying that. But at the end of every season, it happens that we talk with many players.
“That’s happened ever since we arrived. Maybe next season we will continue with all the players or there might be new ones. Now the transfer window is closed, we can focus on the next four months - and afterwards we will see what happens.”
Cancelo was ditched before his unhappiness at failing to get into Guardiola’s team could fester into something more damaging. Sunday Mirror Sport understands there’s no way back for the 28-year-old and that a buyer will be sought in the summer if Bayern don’t take up the option of making the deal permanent.
Image:FC Bayern via Getty Images)
Guardiola feels the level of expectation has become unrealistic as City try to win the title for the fifth time in six seasons. But his ruthless removal of Cancelo from his squad is a signal that he will not allow any disruptive influences in the dressing room.
Guardiola said: “The players don’t need my words to know where they are. Expectations at this club have increased a lot. Our standard is simple - before the season, by November, we should win the Premier League.
“That’s the reality. But to accept that situation is difficult. Expectations are so high. Before I arrived they were not so high. You have to handle that.” He added: “When you drop a little bit in this competition, the Premier League is more difficult.
Image:Matt McNulty - Manchester City/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
“I am first on the list to be self-critical. I told them what they had to do to make the team alive again and that every single ball and every single action was really, really important.
“That was the message for everyone in the organisation. It wasn’t just exclusively for the players. It is easy to blame the players because they play the leading role in this movie. But it’s not just about them. It’s about everyone. It won’t change after one press conference. It’s a process that happens daily.”