Guardiola's not leaving the Etihad anytime soon

Manchester City will not give up on its title defence, says Pep Guardiola, who is not ready to walk away from the Etihad Stadium.

Manchester City's Pep Guardiola   -  Getty Images

Pep Guardiola rubbished claims Manchester City's patchy form this season will persuade him to seek pastures new, suggesting a stay beyond the end of his contract is possible.

City hosts Chelsea on Saturday as it resumes its title defence nine points in arrears of Liverpool, after Jurgen Klopp's runaway leaders beat Pep's men 3-1 at Anfield last time out.

Guardiola's animatedly fraught touchline demeanour throughout the contest, where he railed against key decisions that did not fall in his side's favour, arguably painted a picture of deeper discontent.

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This is only the second time the 48-year-old has entered a fourth season in charge of a club, following his 2011-12 campaign at Barcelona, where it won the Copa del Rey, Supercopa de Espana, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup, but ceded LaLiga to Real Madrid.

A year's sabbatical followed before a three-season stay at Bayern Munich, and the manner in which events unfolded on Merseyside meant it was easy to draw parallels and presume the famously intense Guardiola was burning himself out.

"My last season in Barcelona, I won four titles. I'm sorry – it was not bad," he grinned when the comparison was raised before the game against Chelsea, who is a point and a place better off than City as it sits third in the Premier League.

"Okay, we didn't win the league and, as always, I didn't win the Champions League, but it was good.

"And we played the best football we played in Barcelona in the last season because we knew each other. That was my feeling."

Guardiola reports a similar feeling of contentment when it comes to his current employers, bolstered by an affinity for the city he presently calls home.

"I don't have any reasons to move from here. I am incredibly satisfied to work with this club and these players and I want to help," said the Catalan, whose City contract expires in 2021.

"If the people believe I am going to resign or I am going to be sad for these results, for nine points behind, the people don't know me.

"I like this challenge. I love to be in this position. If the club wants, next season I want to be here. One hundred per cent.

"I want to live in this city because I know lovely people here and I want to work and live with them. I want to be here.

"If the club wants, I will stay."

Ederson will return from a thigh injury against Chelsea after the goalkeeper was a keenly felt absentee versus Liverpool, although City's long-term casualties still include Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane.

During the international break, the Football Association handed Bernardo Silva a one-match ban for a racially insensitive tweet he sent to team-mate Benjamin Mendy, while Raheem Sterling's clash on England duty with Liverpool defender Joe Gomez amounted to another unseemly episode.

This set of circumstances adds up to a sharp contrast with City's imperious march to a domestic treble last season and a 100-point haul in 2017-18, but Guardiola insists he always maintained a sense of perspective.

"A few months ago, people said, 'you can't do better; you are a perfect team' and I said all the time, 'nope'," he recalled.

"Football depends on the balance of the team and it is so flexible. Wow: be careful. I have the feeling we are not far, far away from the way we played in the last seasons.

"It would be easy for me to say we miss Laporte, Leroy and the other ones and that is why there is a nine-point gap.

"That would be poor analysis to get through and improve as a team. We have to find a solution. The big clubs always overcome the situations."

Having rejected any notion of finality around this phase of his City reign, Guardiola expressed a similar sentiment regarding the uphill battle to come in the title race.

"We have two options: give up or don't give up. And I don't think after the way we played, especially at Anfield, we are going to give up.

"We are not going to win, maybe, but we are not going to give up."