Pep Guardiola has thanked Manchester City for giving him the time to mould his formidable Premier League frontrunners and taken time to count how the team has improved dramatically under two seasons of his tenure.
The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss arrived in Manchester to much fanfare for the 2016-17 campaign but, after an encouraging start, City faded from the title picture around the turn of the year and finished the season trophy-less.
Their strong form appears built to last this time around, with Arsenal visiting the Etihad Stadium on Sunday to take on a side who have won nine and drawn one of their 10 top-flight matches to date.
It has been a similar story in the Champions League, with Wednesday’s thrilling 4-2 win at Napoli preserving City’s 100 per cent record and booking a place in the knockout stages with two Group F games to spare.
“Last season, we were not able to win one game away in the Champions League and this season we have won two, and hopefully against Shakhtar Donetsk we can do so again,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.
“The people expect that when a new manager comes it can instantly work and sometimes people forget that you need time to settle something.
“Get the players to know each other, to trust each other, to know everything about the Premier League – the opponents, the style of play, the referees – and it doesn’t matter how much success you had in the past or not, you need time sometimes.
“Fortunately, I am a lucky guy and I have a club where they give me time to do that, so I don’t have the feeling that they don’t trust me and that is fascinating. That’s why I’m so happy to be here.”
Guardiola has overhauled an aging squad since his arrival, with close-season signings Ederson, Bernardo Silva, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo joining stand-out recruits Leroy Sane and Gabriel Jesus in Manchester.