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Failure to sign Harry Kane left Pep Guardiola unsure how Man City would perform

Manchester City are nine points clear at the top of the Premier League.

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Pep Guardiola missed out on signing Harry Kane in the summer (Andrew Matthews/John Walton/PA)

Pep Guardiola missed out on signing Harry Kane in the summer (Andrew Matthews/John Walton/PA)

Pep Guardiola missed out on signing Harry Kane in the summer (Andrew Matthews/John Walton/PA)

Pep Guardiola has stressed he did not know how Manchester City’s season would pan out after their failure to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham last summer.

The City boss says a deal for Kane was “far away” with Spurs “clear this is not going to happen”, adding: “When that happens two or three or four times, it’s over.”

With no high-profile striker arriving as Sergio Aguero departed for Barcelona, City started 2021-22 with back-to-back defeats, being beaten 1-0 at Tottenham – then managed by Nuno Espirito Santo – in their Premier League opener a week after losing to Leicester by the same score in the Community Shield.

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Pep Guardiola’s City host Tottenham on Saturday (Andrew Matthews/PA).

Pep Guardiola’s City host Tottenham on Saturday (Andrew Matthews/PA).

Pep Guardiola’s City host Tottenham on Saturday (Andrew Matthews/PA).

They have lost only one further league game since and currently sit nine points clear at the top of the table.

City on Saturday host eighth-placed Tottenham, now under Antonio Conte after Nuno’s sacking in November.

And Guardiola said at his pre-match press conference regarding Kane: “We tried but it was far away to be done, because Tottenham was clear this is not going to happen. And when that happens two or three or four times, it’s over.

“Now people say ‘Harry Kane didn’t come and everything is going well’ – but I didn’t know it when we lost against Tottenham in the first game and we lost against Leicester in the Community Shield.”

Maybe if we had a proper striker we would play with a striker. But with the quality we have, we have to adapt in some movementsPep Guardiola

He added: “The season now, today, is here – but in three weeks I don’t know what is going to happen.

“That is why I’m not thinking about… We have these players, like I had in my first season, second, third, fourth, fifth and now sixth, and always I was delighted. The club give me that, (and) what can you do together? This is the point.

“Maybe if we had a proper striker we would play with a striker. But with the quality we have, we have to adapt in some movements. For many reasons I adapt, and it’s not a problem, honestly.

“The club is beyond, above everyone and I know the club do the best for me – the best. And when we lose we are sad, but we don’t start to point (saying) ‘your fault, your fault’, the players don’t do it to me and I don’t do it to them.

“It’s happened, OK – what can we do to improve that? In terms of right now, the present, or maybe in summer time, in the transfer market. I love to work in this way.”

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City, who have scored 61 goals in 25 league games this term, in January signed forward Julian Alvarez from River Plate, saying he would remain with the Argentinian side on loan “at least until July 2022”.

Guardiola was asked if he thought City would still look to sign a striker this summer, or if Alvarez could be the man for that role, and he said: “The club is working, watching managers, keepers, full-backs, central defenders, attacking midfielders, strikers – it never stops.

“Julian scored a hat-trick in his last game for River Plate and I think Man City make an incredible deal. I think next pre-season he will be with us, and we’ll see what happens in the future.”

Raheem Sterling notched a treble in City’s last league outing, a 4-0 win at Norwich last weekend, before netting again in the 5-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg victory at Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday, taking him to 13 goals in all competitions this term – that is four behind City’s leading scorer Riyad Mahrez.

Guardiola has expressed his delight at seeing the England forward “back to his best”.

“(His confidence) is higher,” Guardiola said. “Always the goal is a consequence of his confidence, and the confidence comes with his smile and mood.

“You cannot play well or improve when your mood is down. It’s impossible. Good faces – you cannot imagine how important it is.

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Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick at Norwich last weekend (Joe Giddens/PA).

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick at Norwich last weekend (Joe Giddens/PA).

Raheem Sterling scored a hat-trick at Norwich last weekend (Joe Giddens/PA).

“When you are all the time complaining, and I am not talking about Raheem because it is not the case and it was not the case, but in general, when someone was here complaining about lack of minutes or whatever, you cannot be better or improve and you are going to perform bad.

“I saw the first half against Sporting, you see the intensity in all his movements, defensively especially, offensively as well…it’s magnificent.

“It’s what Raheem has done (for) many, many years becoming, in terms of stats in terms of national team, a key player. And for us, for me personally, I am very glad he is back to his best because we need him.”

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