The former Blues midfielder admits that the dethroned Premier League champions are in a “rebuilding year”, but he expects them to come back stronger
Pep Guardiola will not allow Liverpool to run away with the Premier League title again next season, says Stephen Ireland, with the Manchester City boss fully aware of “how much work has to be done” at the Etihad Stadium.
The Blues, who secured an historic domestic treble in 2018-19, have been knocked from the top of the tree in English football by resurgent rivals at Anfield.
Jurgen Klopp’s record-setting outfit have swept aside all before them in the league this season, with a first crown in 30 years wrapped up with seven games to spare.
City can still end the campaign with another three pieces of silverware to their name, but there is a notable gap to be closed on Liverpool.
Ireland expects that to be addressed by Guardiola, who is still waiting to discover whether a two-year European ban for his side will be upheld and what impact that will have on his plans.
Forays into the transfer market may be made by the Blues, with there issues to address at the heart of their back four, while the talismanic presence of David Silva is also set to depart at the end of his contract.
Former City midfielder Ireland told Sky Sports of the challenges facing dethroned champions: “Manchester City, I guess it’s a bit of a rebuilding year.
“David Silva is on his way out, [Vincent] Kompany left and they didn’t quite replace him.
“It’s a bit of an eye-opener just how much work has to be done now throughout the summer period.
“Seeing as Liverpool are pushing on, that gap is getting bigger and bigger and bigger. Man City struggled to start clawing it back.
“I can’t see the gap being this big again next year because I don’t think Guardiola will allow that to happen. I think it’s been a bit of a lesson for everybody.”
Guardiola has vowed to stick around and lead another title charge from City in 2020-21, but his current contract is due to expire at the end of that campaign and no extension has been agreed by the Catalan coach as yet.
Liverpool, meanwhile, have Klopp tied to terms through to 2024 and are determined to ensure that they build on the progress they have made over the course of the last 12 months.