MANCHESTER — Pep Guardiola has said the amazing turnaround in the Manchester derby will have given Liverpool confidence ahead of their Champions League second leg at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday.
Guardiola’s Manchester City need to overturn a 3-0 defeat to reach the semifinals but he said his side, who let a 2-0 half-time lead slip to lose 3-2 to United on Saturday, were capable of progressing.
However, he added that Liverpool could take encouragement after City failed to “close the door.”
“It’s difficult for our mood not winning and, yeah, that can happen,” he told a news conference. “But maybe we will improve for the future on that, to realise that sometimes it’s not enough what you’ve done to win games.
“I came here in the first half to try to do what we’ve done all season, but maybe it’s not enough to win at Champions League level or the Premier League.
“If that’s so I will have to recognise that I’m not good enough or the way we want to play is not able to do that, but I don’t think so because of what we’ve done this season.
“In the first half [against United], even in moments in the second half, I have to be happy. I like to watch my team, the way we play this season and the way we played in the first half.
“But when you play against Liverpool or in Europe when you have that momentum you have to close the door. And we didn’t close it [against United].”
City have now conceded six goals in their last two matches, with Liverpool scoring three in 19 minutes at Anfield while United hit three in 16 minutes.
Similar rushes of goals have cost Guardiola in the past, with Real Madrid scoring three in 18 minutes in the 2014 Champions League semifinal and Bayern losing 3-0 to Barcelona the following season despite the game having been goalless after 77 minutes.
“I thought many times about that. I’ve dropped a lot of Champions League games in the space of 10 or 15 minutes,” Guardiola said.
“Maybe it’s my fault. I have to think about it. But I feel that when you dominate and create chances you are closer to winning games and I think this season showed that.
“The numbers we have done in terms of goals but not just goals, the chances we concede, we are the best with these type of players, is few. But it’s impossible when the opponents arrive four times and score three goals.”
Guardiola said his side had not been clinical enough against United but defended Raheem Sterling, who started as a false No. 9 but missed a number of chances.
“But he was there,” Guardiola said when asked whether Sterling was culpable. “I know there were mistakes and yes, we lost the game, so you are right. I’ve nothing to say.
“You ask questions, I give you my opinion on what I saw in the game. We could be better but we could be worse. Always when you don’t win you have mistakes, but the first half was good.
“We played three days ago, our physicality is lower than United. Maybe the second half was a bit of an influence of that. We had a tough game three days ago, we had another one here, so maybe the second half was like this, but I see the spirit of the time all the time.”
Jonathan is ESPN FC’s Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.