Pep Guardiola exclusive: Premier League champions will have 90+ points again, but what is pressure?

In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Pep Guardiola assess the title race, explores what pressure means to him, and admits coronavirus has changed the way he looks at football; Watch Man City vs Leicester from 4pm on Super Sunday live on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 4.30pm

Pep Guardiola
Image: In an exclusive interview with Sky Sports, Pep Guardiola discusses pressure, what it will take to win the title, and how coronavirus has changed his view of football

"I think you need to make more than 90 points to be champion... I think the media, or my fans, or my chairman is not going to put me in jail if I don't win the Premier League. So what is the pressure?"

If one person in football was to be familiar with the anatomy of stress and tension, it will be the person who has taken charge of Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City, three clubs where domestic titles are expected as the minimum.

After their record breaking 100-point season in 2017/18, City boss Pep Guardiola sat on top of the Premier League 12 months later with 98 points, and barely had to look over his shoulder to see Liverpool just one point behind.

Last season it was Liverpool's turn, another mammoth 99 points collected and just 15 points dropped. If the previous three years are anything to go by, drop more than 10 points before Christmas Day and you're out of the title race - that's just two defeats and two draws.

Guardiola sees this year as no different. Another haul of 90+ points will win it, he insists, meaning every game counts. So, is he so familiar with pressure that he doesn't recognise it anymore?

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola
Image: Manchester City won the title with 98 points in 2019, while Liverpool won with 99 last season

Asked if the Premier League will ever return to an 80-point champion, Guardiola said: "No, I don't think so. Maybe I am wrong, I don't know, but I think you need to make more than 90 points to be champion.

"I think the media, or my fans, or my chairman, is not going to put me in jail if I don't win the Premier League. So what is the pressure?

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"The pressure is to do your job as well as possible, and the worst thing that can happen is they're going to sack me. I will hug a lot of people here and say thank you for the incredible opportunity to be in England and in the Premier League. This is not the pressure. I try to do my job.

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"I have always had it that way, since I started in Barcelona when we lost games at the beginning, I said: 'OK, the worst thing that can happen is I will be back at home with my family and I will find another job. More time to myself to play golf, or whatever.'

"This is my pressure I put on myself. Of course I am concerned and sad when I don't win, when we went out of the Champions League I was sad, but I accept that part of my life. We do everything to try to win, but I will not die if I don't win one title."

'We have to be careful, we have to be alert'

It is a refreshing and unique look at stress in football, and for Guardiola, the perspective may even be accentuated by what is going on in the world at present.

In April, Guardiola's mother died after contracting coronavirus, aged 82. Has the pandemic altered how he looks at football?

Asked if what he'd been through had changed his perspective on the game, he said: "A little bit, yes. Still I am happy to do my job, I do as best I can, but at the same time, one significant thing that we are unable to see can change humanity, can change this world that we knew before.

"When you forget a little bit about what you have to do, the cases rise, increase, and we are in trouble again. We have to be alert, be careful.

"We have to continue to do it. I honestly think we cannot relax, we have to be careful, we have to be alert, because the virus is still here.

"It's weird. How many shops, locals are closing because they cannot be open. It's weird and strange for everyone."

'It's not just Liverpool...'

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Though the title may have been a two-horse race in the previous two seasons, Guardiola believes the entire top six of the Premier League is stronger, and sees the challenge for the title not just coming from Liverpool.

"The champion will again have more than 90 points, and before that didn't happen quite often. And it will be the fourth season in a row where it takes more than 90 points, or close to 100 points, to be champion.

"And that's why we have to live playing that if we lose a game, maybe we are not going to win the league, because not just now Liverpool, but I think Manchester United finished last season making a step forward, Arsenal changed completely with Mikel, and the other ones.

"Mourinho's teams are incredibly competitive, now with [Gareth] Bale and [Sergio] Reguilon and the other players, and Chelsea again. Leicester last season with what they did. There are five or six there, so it is difficult, but I think the champion will get a lot of points again, so we cannot drop it.

"I had the feeling with every season that it is stronger. I'm not going to say it is the strongest, but every season since we arrived, wow, so strong. That's good I think for the Premier League."

Watch Man City vs Leicester from 4pm on Super Sunday live on Sky Sports Premier League; Kick-off 4.30pm

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