Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes it has never been harder to become Premier League champion since he joined the club over seven years ago.
The City boss is targeting a fourth successive league title this season but faces stiffer competition and his team have lost two of their first 10 matches.
City is third in the table with 24 points, two behind leader Tottenham Hotspur. Arsenal is second and Liverpool is a point behind City in fourth place.
“Every season is tougher compared with when I arrived. Better managers, better teams,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday ahead of their home clash with Bournemouth, “There are still 28 games to play and a lot of things are going to happen.”
Guardiola has every respect for Bournemouth who won their first league game last weekend after four straight defeats, a 2-1 home victory over Burnley.
“Andoni (Iraola) is an incredible manager, playing offensive, attractive,” Guardiola said.
“They have good spirit and they do not sit back. The result (against Burnley) gives them confidence.”
City striker Erling Haaland, 23, was one of the favourites to win his first Ballon d’Or on Monday after scoring 52 goals in 53 matches last season as City won the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup.
The Norwegian, however, finished second behind Lionel Messi.
“I saw him so happy to be a contender close to Messi and (Kylian) Mbappe and the rest of the players. It was a big night for Man City,” Guardiola said.
“Haaland has all his career ahead of him. He has to continue winning and a chance to say ‘maybe next season I can be there’. He was pleased to be in there.”
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