Pep Guardiola warned Manchester City to up their performance levels after a 3-0 win over Premier League basement boys Huddersfield Town.
City held a 1-0 lead at half-time thanks to Danilo’s deflected drive, with Leroy Sane later telling Sky Sports that Guardiola “woke us up” at the interval.
The Germany winger was particularly receptive to his manager’s words – crossing for Raheem Sterling to covert a diving header before himself getting on the scoresheet.
Speaking at his post-match news conference, Guardiola’s satisfaction did not extend too far beyond the fact his reigning champions were back to within four points of league leaders Liverpool.
“Today we are happy but after that we have to analyse what we have done, and if we want to win in future we will have to play better,” he said.
“The way we played, we didn’t deserve more than three goals. We will improve in the future. We have to demand more from ourselves in every game and do our best, but sometimes it’s difficult. They defended deep and man to man.
“In the second half we were better, especially the first 15. Our rhythm was not quick enough in the first half, but we would take that result.
“I am honest with them and tell them all the time what I feel. We have to try and find the reason why we didn’t play quicker or better.
“After what these guys have done in 16, 17 months, it can’t be lack of intensity or not wanting to run. We didn’t make passes in a row, we had to move it quicker. We spoke about what we should do in the second half.”
Improvements should certainly be forthcoming from two of Guardiola’s key players after Kevin De Bruyne completed 90 minutes for the first time in an injury-hit Premier League season, while Sergio Aguero was back in the starting line-up following a bout of illness.
“Kevin played 90 minutes, that is good news. When you are a long time injured you need the rhythm,” the former Barcelona boss added.
“Sergio was sick, and he needs time, too. They are incredible players but they need rhythm.”
Next up, City have the formality of defending a 9-0 lead in the second leg of their EFL Cup semi-final against Burton Albion before an FA Cup fourth-round showdown at home to Burnley next weekend.
Liverpool, by contrast, can rest up until hosting Leicester City on January 30.
Guardiola, who confirmed record signing Riyad Mahrez was not injured despite being omitted from his matchday 18, added: “I would rather be in Liverpool’s position. All we can do is win our games. Improve, analyse our games and try to improve.
“I cannot answer about Liverpool in every press conference. Now we have the EFL Cup. We will see.”