Pep Guardiola does not want Manchester City looking over their shoulders in the quest to become Premier League champions.
Following City's first top-flight defeat of the season at Liverpool last weekend, Manchester United's 1-0 win at Burnley on Saturday meant Guardiola's men went into the late kick-off against Newcastle United with their lead at the summit trimmed to nine points.
A Sergio Aguero hat-trick ensured it returned to double digits with 14 games remaining and Guardiola, a three-time league champion at both Barcelona and Bayern Munich, told his players to focus on the task at hand and not the fortunes of their rivals.
"I cannot deny we spoke about that. You have two choices – to see what happens behind or to see the 10 games we have to win [to become champions]," he told reporters.
"The best way is to maintain looking forwards. What happened [at Anfield] happened. I said to them that until fixture 24 we are the best team. But that doesn't count. It counts at fixture 38.
"To win 10 games will be tough because every team plays for something – to stay [in the Premier League], for the Europa League, for the Champions League.
"I said, 'don't look back, please. Don't look at our contenders behind; look what we have to achieve'.
"If you try and wait for what happens behind, if we are looking at what they do – that is not a good solution, in my experience.
"We won the game [against Newcastle], after you have Carabao Cup, FA Cup and then West Brom at home. That is the best way, to look forward and win games. After that we will be closer to being champions."
We reacted well and won the game and avoided two bad results in a row.— PepTeam (@PepTeam) January 20, 2018
Reaccionamos bien, ganamos el partido y evitamos así un segundo tropiezo consecutivo.#cityvnufc #mancity pic.twitter.com/hN1TxI6D7g
Guardiola made light of his players being spoken of as would-be "invincibles" one minute and possible chokers the next, before praising the quiet focus of a squad whose next assignment comes at Bristol City, defending a 2-1 advantage from the first leg of their EFL Cup semi-final.
"I read that Newcastle, years ago [in 1996], dropped a 12-point advantage and United won the league. Two months ago I listened and the Premier League is done," he observed.
"You lose one game… I said many times that is going to happen. In Anfield, you can lose. The important thing is the reaction.
"Still you have 42 points to play for, 14 games to play. It's a lot of games to play and with difficult teams.
"It is important to show the team is still there. I don't have the feeling we have given up.
"The team was so quiet in our meetings, quiet in the warm up and that feels like people are focused. That is so important."
Guardiola added: "I think they have the desire to keep going and going. There are a lot of games. It is important to see the personality of the team.
"With mistakes or no mistakes, that is part of football: the desire to try. Never I didn't see it this season and that is why I am pleased to be their manager."
|Guardiola second to none tactially, says Man City midfielder Gundogan|
|Liverpool captain Henderson ponders Salah and Suarez comparison|
|Messi worried by the uncertainty retirement brings|
|Rants, criticism a familiar story – Is Mourinho set for Man United exit?|
|Messi desperate for World Cup success|
|Napoli causing Juventus problems as Sarri revels in crucial win|
|The better Ronaldo is, the better Madrid will be – Vazquez lauds four-goal hero|
|Salah ´unstoppable´ like Messi, says Watford boss Gracia|
|Demanding Mourinho is still special, insists Matic|
|Dallas 3 Seattle Sounders 0: Dempsey sees red after VAR|
|Ronaldo ´from another galaxy´, says Zidane|
|Eusebio Sack-ristan: Real Sociedad part company with head coach|
|Fassone ready for Gattuso talks after Milan resurgence|
|Napoli 1 Genoa 0: Albiol goal maintains pressure on Juve|
|Real Madrid 6 Girona 3: Four-goal Ronaldo continues hot streak with 50th career hat-trick|
|USA boss Sarachan calls up Weah for Paraguay friendly|
|Excellent Leipzig deserved Bayern win - Heynckes|
|Conte impressed by Morata´s return to scoring form|
|I lost the game myself - Simeone accepts responsibility for Atletico Madrid defeat|
|Borussia Dortmund to delay final Stoger decision - Zorc|
|Puel stands by Schmeichel after FA Cup blunder|
|Neymar could be back for Coupe de France final, says Silva|
|Valverde waits on Iniesta answer as Barcelona captain considers exit|
|Villarreal 2 Atletico Madrid 1: Unal deals LaLiga title race blow for Simeone´s men|
|Leicester City 1 Chelsea 2 (aet): Pedro and Morata send Conte´s men through|
|RB Leipzig 2 Bayern Munich 1: Werner strike seals memorable triumph|
|Gattuso demands lift from out-of-favour Kalinic|
|Messi puts us where we are right now - Alcacer hails Barcelona superstar|
|Sampaoli ´right´ to pick others - Icardi understands Argentina snub|
|Barcelona 2 Athletic Bilbao 0: Messi and Alcacer secure comfortable success|
|Hughes excited by Southampton quality|
|Nice prepared for ´likely´ Balotelli departure|
|Germany defender Halstenberg extends RB Leipzig contract|
|No offers for Roma´s Alisson, says Monchi|
|Constant compliments guarantee defeat, claims Inter boss Spalletti|
|Scoring 100th Serie A goal at Sampdoria was ´destiny´, says Icardi|
|Stoger happy with Gotze response after public criticism|
|AC Milan 3 Chievo 2: Silva spares Rossoneri once more|
|Silva confident Neymar´s future is at PSG|
|´Shameful´ PSG cannot buy a team, says Balotelli|
|Everton goal hero Tosun glad Palace move fell through|
|Wigan Athletic 0 Southampton 2: Hojbjerg and Cedric give Hughes first win|
|Fiorentina rename training ground after late captain Astori|
|Borussia Dortmund 1 Hannover 0: Batshuayi the difference again for Stoger´s men|
|Nice 1 Paris Saint-Germain 2: Alves earns late victory for runaway leaders|
|Icardi 100: Inter captain´s Serie A landmark in Opta numbers|
|Sampdoria 0 Inter 5: Four-goal Icardi demolishes former side|
|Van Gaal: Heynckes can become a Bayern Munich god|
|Real Madrid without Ramos for Girona test|
|Icardi reaches 100 Serie A goals against former club Sampdoria|
|Cardiff trip to Derby postponed due to snow|
|Ogbonna gets Italy call as cover for doubtful Chiellini|
|Sunderland suspend Gibson after drink-driving charge|
|Winning FA Cup is not important, claims Chelsea coach Conte|
|No one will be compared to me – Cristiano Ronaldo|
|Melbourne Victory 5 Central Coast Mariners 2: Berisha leads rout with hat-trick|
|Marotta dismisses Allegri-PSG links as Juve focus on Can|
|MLS Review: Champions Toronto still winless, Atlanta crush Whitecaps|
|Lukaku: A lot of players will join Manchester United next season|
|Salah and Liverpool don´t fear Man City: We´ve beaten them!|
|What can I lose? - Mourinho defends criticism of Man Utd players|
|Mourinho accuses Manchester United of being scared to play|
|Mourinho delivers stinging Shaw criticism after FA Cup win|
|Allegri waits on Chiellini update after Juve´s SPAL stalemate|
|Klopp eases concerns over Can´s back complaint|
|Matic was an island of personality - Mourinho questions United mentality|
|SPAL 0 Juventus 0: Scudetto charge halted by Serie A strugglers|
|Manchester United 2 Brighton and Hove Albion 0: Lukaku & Matic book semi-final spot|
|Klopp: Salah could be among world´s best, but don´t compare him to Messi|
|Championship Review: Wolves on the charge as Monk lifts Birmingham´s spirits|
|Salah threatening Rush´s record for goals in single Liverpool season|
|Hodgson hopes Zaha avoided injury|
|Liverpool 5 Watford 0: Inspirational Salah nets four as Reds bounce back|
|Lambert rues Everton´s ´offside´ opener in costly Stoke City defeat|
|Man Utd bench Pogba & Sanchez for FA Cup quarter-final|
|Pardew: Evans loss key to Bournemouth defeat|
|Salah breaks Torres´ impressive Liverpool record|
|We are not heroes one day and villains the next – Mourinho continues defence of Sevilla exit|
|They have many players who´d get in my team – The Sevilla stars Mourinho should buy|
|Mario Gomez will not beg for World Cup place|
|Bournemouth 2 West Brom 1: Stanislas piles misery on Pardew|
|Buffon to play on for Italy as Di Biagio calls up uncapped duo|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Crystal Palace 2: Tomkins and Milivojevic secure priceless win|
|Stoke City 1 Everton 2: Tosun at the double after Adam´s early dismissal|
|Simeone insists Atletico can survive injury crisis|
|Leipzig out to halt Bayern celebrations at Red Bull Arena|
|Board accepts responsibility for West Ham woes, Brady claims|
|In-form Eriksen hopes he hasn´t hit Tottenham ceiling|
|Roma boss Di Francesco happy with Messi, Barca challenge|
|The directors know where to find me - Gattuso awaits Milan talks|
|Zidane focused on Real Madrid players, not Neymar|
|Mourinho´s United rant recalls unhappy Madrid demise|
|Swansea City 0 Tottenham 3: Eriksen leads Kane-less Spurs into FA Cup semis|
|Valverde not worried about Barcelona legacy|
|Bale is happy at Real Madrid, says Zidane|
|Spalletti seeks consistency as Inter prepare for final push|
|Absence of ´best in the world´ Busquets makes Rakitic key for Barca|
|A-League Review: Sydney stumble again as Jets close gap|
|Dreadshock! Neymar reveals new hairdo|
|Villarreal defender Semedo denied bail on attempted murder charge|
|Messi: I´m a less selfish player|
|Coaching Italy would be extraordinary – Mancini|
|Intensity key to Liverpool toppling Man City, says Klopp|
|People listen to idiots - Mourinho cites ´dictionary of life´ in extraordinary rant|
|Mourinho tells struggling Manchester United stars to ´grow up´|