Pep Guardiola believes his Manchester City players are demonstrating the same never-say-die qualities of Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United teams, after claiming a dramatic late winner for the fourth game in succession.
City restored their eight-point lead over rivals United going into Sunday’s eagerly awaited Manchester derby at Old Trafford after coming from behind to beat West Ham and record a 13th consecutive Premier League victory thanks to David Silva’s 83rd-minute volley.
And Guardiola responded by paying tribute to the “Fergie time” spirit being showcased by his players, a reference to the habit United had of scoring late goals under their former manager. Silva’s goal followed winners in the 88th, 84th and 96th minute against Feyenoord, Huddersfield Town and Southampton respectively.
“I heard about the Fergie time,” the City manager said.
“I was not here in that period but, of course, you have to have that. At the end what we have shown in the last games is we never give up. If we can take something about the Fergie time, it is welcome, a pleasure.”
Guardiola has seen Huddersfield, Southampton and now West Ham defend deep and in numbers and accused opponents of not wanting to play. And he raised the prospect of playing a four-man forward line in such games in the future after praising the impact of Gabriel Jesus, after the Brazil striker was introduced in attack alongside Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling.
“The second-half with Gabriel inside we had more players in the box,” Guardiola said.
“The same time against Southampton, I didn’t believe we would score the goals, but today I believed we would.
“They didn’t want to play… but today I learned a bit like a manager to tackle it differently.
“I think what happened is the opponent doesn’t want to play. They just want to defend, waiting for a moment. I understand. Don’t misunderstand me. I am not judging, but it is difficult. Always they have 10 players behind the ball.”
West Ham came within seven minutes of becoming only the second team to take points off City in the league this season and David Moyes – who is still searching for his first win as manager – is convinced his side will avoid relegation.
“I always think we will get away,” he said. “I don’t think we will be in trouble. I think we have a good team, good players. I thought the effort and energy of the players will give us a real chance.”