MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - Manchester City could win the Premier League with six games to spare if they beat Manchester United on Saturday but manager Pep Guardiola says there is no chance of repeating such dominance in the future.
City lead second-placed United by 16 points and they have looked champions-elect since beating their rivals at Old Trafford in December.
“No way. Never is it going to happen again that. Never. 18 games (winning) in a row? No way. It’s impossible,” he said.
“The opponents want to beat you, you’re a little bit more relaxed, the big achievement is already done so your intensity is sometimes (lower).
“I have experience of that. I was in Barcelona four years and handled when you win, you win, you win - it’s so much more demanding. Next season will be so, so complicated for us. That is not going to happen again. It’s impossible,” he said.
But while he expects City’s title rivals to be more competitive, the Spaniard clearly believes there is room for improvement with his team, especially in European competition.
City lost their Champions League quarter-final, first-leg, 3-0 to Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday and although Guardiola insists they can turn that tie around, he does not think his squad is ready to win Europe’s top trophy.
“Last season we are not able to get the feeling that we are ready to compete in Europe. Right now, I think we are still not ready to win the Champions League but we make a step forward and in that competition there’s something special in terms of the quality of opponent and anything can happen.
“I think we made a magnificent group stage, the first leg in Basel in the knockout stage was so so good and OK we have one more game, we will see what happens,” he said.
Victory on Saturday against local rivals United would bring particular pleasure to City fans but Guardiola says his personal rivalry with Jose Mourinho will not be in his thoughts.
“I have never beaten Mourinho and he never beat me. Our teams beat one another, so I don’t play against Jose. He doesn’t play against me,” he added.
“Sometimes his teams, they beat me, sometimes I beat him, it’s simple as that.”
For all the celebrations that could get under way at the Etihad if City win Saturday’s derby, Guardiola said it will not be able to match the excitement of City’s 2012 title win, their first for 44 years.
City scored twice in injury time on the final day, including a last gasp Sergio Aguero winner, to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2 and clinch the title on goal difference from United.
“Nothing will be more emotional than when Sergio scored the goal in 2012, nothing could compare. I saw the images on You Tube,” said Guardiola.
“In that situation nothing can compare to that goal in the last minute to win the title after such a long time.”
Reporting by Simon Evans, editing by Pritha Sarkar