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Pep Guardiola: We must stay grounded

Pep Guardiola is refusing to get carried away with the potential of his prolific Manchester City team as they prepare to welcome Shakhtar Donetsk to the Etihad on Tuesday evening in the Champions League.

Free-scoring City have been outstanding in recent weeks, thrashing Liverpool, Watford and Crystal Palace in their last three Premier League games by an aggregate score of 16-0.

Combined with a 4-0 thrashing of Feyenoord in the opening Champions League group game, and a more modest 2-1 victory over West Brom in the Carabao Cup, City’s momentum since the last international break has been formidable.

Spaniard Guardiola, when asked if the atmosphere in the camp had changed much in the past 12 months at his pre-match news conference, said: “Most of the players know it’s [only] September. The last [few] years, City always start good and after we look at the table.

“It’s just September, [it’s] game by game and we focus on all competitions now.

“The smiles were on our faces last season too. It’s easy. We’re winning. When [you’re] winning, it’s easier and all you [the media] are looking at and observing and saying that’s good, that’s good is because we are winning. So we have to keep doing that.

“That is the secret. We’re professionals and all the players are here to win games and when they win, their lives as professionals are better.”

Guardiola also revealed that it was far too soon to compare the current City vintage to his previous successful sides at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

“It’s too early to say, because I have players here who I didn’t have in the past,” he added.

“I don’t have players [here] I have in the past. So it’s difficult for me to compare. [At Barcelona/Bayern] it was easy to defend our ideas because we won a lot of titles. Here, we didn’t win absolutely anything so we’ll be judged on that.

“The brilliant style and all these kind of things only I can talk about that and I defend 100% what I’m talking about. You [media] are demanding titles, not the [attractive] way we play.

“That is what I have to try and win titles and for that, you have to win games.”

The City boss was at pains to warn his team against the danger of underestimating Tuesday’s opponents from the Ukraine.

“Every time I play Shakhtar, I have the same feeling. When I faced them the first time, my team went to see them and came back and said ‘wow’.

“Against Monaco, in 180 minutes we are out because we played bad for 45 minutes. Shakhtar deserve all my credit.”

Rumours that City were discussing a new contract with Belgium star Kevin De Bruyne, who is contracted to Guardiola’s team until 2021, are what he and everyone at the club wants, the Catalan admitted.

“I said in my last press conference that the transfer window closed on September 1 but I’m still working on it and, of course, like [any] club we want Kevin and the other [players] to stay as long as possible,” Guardiola said.

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