Pep Guardiola explains what surprised him about his first season in charge of Manchester City
By Michael Kelleher
Last Updated: 12/05/17 3:52pm
Pep Guardiola admits he was surprised by how early Manchester City dropped out of this season's title race but warned his squad will be much stronger after this summer's transfer window.
City sit fourth in the table, 15 points behind leaders Chelsea, who can win the league with victory against West Brom on Friday Night Football.
The priority for City is securing a top-four finish and Champions League football for next season. They will look to take another step towards that on Saturday when they host Leicester City, live on Sky Sports 1 HD.
But that is not the scenario Guardiola envisioned when he took over from Manuel Pellegrini last summer.
When asked to sum up his first season in the Premier League, Guardiola said: "It was intense. It was funny. I have enjoyed it.
"But I expected to fight until the end and I was not able to do this, especially in the Premier League. In the Champions League, we were not ready to compete with the best teams in Europe.
"But I was expecting to compete until the end and in the last three, four or five games to be fighting for the Premier League. We were not able to do that.
"But I am optimistic in the last three games we will be able to qualify for the Champions League and I think we will be stronger next season."
City have a number of senior players whose contracts are set to expire in June, including Yaya Toure, Pablo Zabaleta, Gael Clichy, Bacary Sagna, Jesus Navas and Willy Caballero.
Guardiola says he has already decided which of those players will be offered new contracts but those decisions will not be communicated to the players themselves until after the season.
And he revealed plans are already in place for what he expects to be a busy summer in the transfer market for City.
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"Internally we are going to discuss - and we have been talking about this for months - what can improve for us next season to be a stronger team," Guardiola said.
"We will keep the players we believe can help us a lot and buy new players to help us get stronger."
Guardiola confirmed Sergio Aguero and John Stones could both return against Leicester after resuming training this week.
Aguero missed last weekend's 5-0 win over Crystal Palace with a groin injury, while Stones has been sidelined for a month by a leg problem.