Pep Guardiola on Monday warned his on-fire Manchester City team they must guard against complacency or risk seeing a great start to the season disintegrate once again.City are top of the Premier League after winning five and drawing the other of their opening six matches, while also enjoying victories over Feyenoord in the Champions League and West Brom in the League Cup.
However, Guardiola, whose side take on Shakhtar Donetsk at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday, is wary after seeing City end up without a trophy last season despite winning their opening 10 matches in all competitions.
The club endured a similar disappointment the season before that, under Manuel Pellegrini, when they won their first five Premier League matches and yet ended the campaign in fourth.
City have been in outstanding form of late, scoring 16 goals in their past three league matches, with 5-0 victories over Liverpool and Crystal Palace coming either side of a 6-0 win at Watford.
In addition, Guardiola’s side also made an excellent start in the Champions League, with a convincing 4-0 victory at Feyenoord in their opening group match.
The manager, though, says that it is far too early to get carried away.
“It is better to be in the position we are, but it’s just September,” he told reporters in Manchester at his pre-match press conference. “There is a long time to go, and a lot of games still to play.
“The players know it is September. In the last few years Manchester City have always started well and after that were not able to achieve the results. We go game by game and focus on all competitions.”
The City boss said the atmosphere within the squad was good because the team had started the season so strongly.
“When we win, then things always seem easy. We are looking at things, observing them and saying that is good, because we are winning.
“All we have to do is keep going. That is the secret. We are professionals and all the players are here to win games.”
MENDY FITNESS TEST
Benjamin Mendy faces a late fitness test on a knee injury as Guardiola considers his defensive options for the Shakhtar match in Group F.
The left-back limped off during Saturday’s 5-0 destruction of Palace, which made Guardiola’s team the outright Premier League leaders.
Fabian Delph and Danilo are both in contention to start if the France international fails to recover in time.
Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan and centre-back Vincent Kompany will definitely miss out, despite being back in training after recent injury problems.
Guardiola said of Mendy: “We are going to give him a test to see if he is able to play. Ilkay trained yesterday and so did Vincent, but neither is ready for Tuesday.”
City fell short last season because of a repeated failure to turn their domination of games into victories.
Guardiola would repeatedly bemoan the fact that his players would create plenty of chances and fail to take them, and that his team would then concede when the opponents got a rare sight of goal.
He said: “My feeling is that we were playing in this way last season, but in the box we were not good back then.
“When we play at home we feel we are going to score goals. How many chances we create and concede is quite similar to last season.
“But the stability can go down. We have to be careful and work in our habits and our fundamentals.”