Ilkay Gündogan believes Pep Guardiola can emulate his dominance of German football in England, though concedes that the Premier League’s top clubs will make it difficult for Manchester City next season.
City’s first league title of the Guardiola era was confirmed on Sunday when rivals and nearest challengers Manchester United suffered a surprise defeat to the top flight’s bottom club West Bromwich Albion.
Guardiola’s side have dominated ever since establishing a lead at the summit in early September and, with five games remaining, they are look likely to surpass the current records for most points, most wins and most goals scored in a single season.
It is all reminiscent of how Guardiola’s Bayern Munich dominated domestic football between 2013 and 2016 in Gundogan’s native Germany and though the midfielder thinks the Premier League is more competitive than the Bundesliga, he also believes City can be just as dominant next year.
“I think he is one of the best coaches in the world and I’m really grateful to be able to work with him,” Gundogan said of Guardiola. “But the competition in the Premier League is much harder than in Germany.
“We have five or six teams who are all able to win the league and that makes it incredibly difficult. But we are ambitious and we aim to win every game. If we continue with this mentality then there’s no reason we can’t continue in this way.”
Gundogan was Guardiola’s first recruit for City in the summer of 2016 but he endured a difficult first year in Manchester, spending nine months on the sidelines with a cruciate knee ligament injury.
The 27-year-old returned to full fitness in September, making 43 appearances this season to date, and a day after City’s title win was confirmed, he thanked Guardiola for showing faith in him during his lay-off.
“We [he and Pep] share our idea of the game,” he said. “After my comeback he gradually gave me more and more time on the pitch, getting me closer and closer to my best possible performance.
“He has put much trust in me and I am happy I was able to pay some of it back during this season. He was a great player himself, he has been in our shoes. He always asks for 100 percent, in every training session, every match.”
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