Pep Guardiola has urged his players to help come up with a plan to spark a Manchester City revival, saying clubs can only be successful if a manager and his squad are on the same wavelength.
City boss Guardiola is under pressure to salvage something from the season after conceding the Premier League title was beyond his side following their 4-0 thrashing at Everton on January 15.
Now City are 12 points adrift of leaders Chelsea with 16 league matches left after just one win in their last four games –- and that was against the top flight’s worst away team, Burnley.
But they could yet end the season with a trophy, with City away to Premier League rivals Crystal Palace in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Saturday ahead of a last 16 Champions League tie at home to Monaco on February 21.
“It is a mix so we have to agree with one idea to play every day,” said former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Guardiola. “All the players sit down and say if we want to play that way, it is perfect.
“They are going to think about what is the best for this team-mate or his friend because every player has his own way of playing.
“The manager has to put his idea on the table and convince players to follow him,” the Spaniard added.
City resume their Premier League campaign in fifth spot, two points adrift of fourth-placed Liverpool at West Ham United on Wednesday after this weekend’s Cup tie against south London club Palace.
Asked if it would be a failure not to finish in the top four, Guardiola refused to write off his team, saying: “We will see at the end of the season.”
– ‘Winning titles important’ –
But Guardiola was well aware of the significance of securing his first trophy as City manager.
“Winning titles of course is important,” he said. “I told the club I want to win the title so I’m not thinking about that.
“Of course winning would help for the future but I think the club has a plan for the long term and it doesn’t matter who the players and the managers are, they will keep going in that sense.
“Winning titles is important, like winning games.”
Guardiola watched City’s youth team beat Southampton 4-0 earlier this week, a result which saw them reach the quarter-finals of the FA Youth Cup.
And he believes there are several promising youngsters from Lee Carsley’s squad who will make it all the way to the first team in years to come.
“We follow them from the beginning. There are three, four or five players that are huge talents in that age group,” Guardiola said. “They will be able to play in that club in the future and they play well.
“We are delighted because Brian Marwood and all the people in the academy work for a long time, really well.
One area where City have a wealth of first-team options is in attack, with the likes of Sergio Aguero, David Silva, Gabiel Jesus, Kevin De Bruyne, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane, Kelechi Iheanacho and Nolito all competing for starting positions.
“We have seven strikers. It is a lot and Nolito played a lot in the beginning,” said Guardiola. “Leroy was not fit and Jesus played two or three games but he didn’t play in the last games.
“I try to involve everybody from what I see in the training sessions.”