Pep Guardiola says Manchester City cannot afford to lose any more games if they are to defend their Premier League title.
The champions are currently third in the table and trail leaders Liverpool by nine points after 13 games.
“I am not thinking how many games we have to win,” Guardiola said on Friday. “I know we cannot lose games but I’m not thinking about winning the Premier League right now.
“I never thought about it the years when we won. Of course it is on our minds but I don’t think what we have to do to win the Premier League
Guardiola feared City had suffered a terminal blow to their title ambitions last season when they were beaten at Newcastle in January.
They responded by winning their next 14 games to pip Liverpool to the crown by a point.
City return to the scene of that defeat as they face the Magpies, now managed by Steve Bruce, at St James’ Park on Saturday.
Guardiola also expressed sympathy for Unai Emery after the Arsenal boss was sacked but said reports linking his assistant Mikel Arteta with the Emirates job were “not a question for me”.
The Manchester City manager faced Emery when the latter was in charge of Valencia in La Liga, and Guardiola was the manager of Barcelona, as well as crossing swords in the 18 months Emery spent in charge of the Gunners.
Arsenal’s poor form brought Emery’s dismissal on Friday.
“I’m so sorry for him,” said Guardiola. “Every time a manager is sacked it’s not good news, honestly.
“It doesn’t change my opinion about his capacity. He’s an incredible professional, did incredibly well in Spain.”
Emery’s dismissal has seen Guardiola’s assistant Arteta, a former Arsenal player, linked to the job at the London club, although Guardiola commented only briefly.
“He travels to Newcastle. It’s not a question for me,” said the City boss.
Guardiola was speaking at the end of a week in which City was boosted by a $500 million investment from US private equity firm Silver Lake, a move that valued the Premier League champions’ parent company at nearly $5 billion.
The City manager was reluctant to discuss the implications of such astonishing financial muscle but he was keen to stress the strength of his working relationship with the club’s owner, Khaldoon Al Mubarak.
“It (the relationship) was good from the beginning, especially in the bad moments of the first season,” he said.
“I’m delighted to work for this club, especially for our chairman… He’s an incredibly humble person and one of the nicest I’ve ever met.”