Pep Guardiola thanked Liverpool for pushing Manchester City to levels even he thought were impossible after the champions retained the Premier League title on the final day of the season.
City came from behind at Brighton to secure a 14th consecutive victory, ending the season on 98 points to become the first side to retain the Premier League crown since 2009.
Liverpool’s bid to be crowned champions for the first time in 29 years fell agonisingly short as they finished a point behind City, but Guardiola saluted the Reds’ relentless challenge after their role in the toughest title win of his career.
“First of all, we have to say congratulations to Liverpool, of course, and thank you so much,” the City boss told Sky Sports.
“They helped to push us and to increase our standards from last season because to compete against this team pushed us to do what we have done.
“It’s incredible, 198 points in two seasons to go back-to-back. We made the standard higher last season and Liverpool helped us to be there all of the time.
“To win this title we had to win 14 in a row. We knew for two or three months that we couldn’t lose one point. This was the toughest title we have won in all my career by far.”
City can complete an unprecedented domestic treble with victory over Watford in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Guardiola insists that the collective effort of his squad, and not individuals, are responsible for City’s dominance, and has warned the champions will be back even stronger next season.
“We won the Community Shield, the Carabao Cup, the Premier League and we are in the FA Cup final,” the Spaniard added.
“We don’t have one player who can make the difference, we have to do it as a team. That is the secret.
“We push each other, I push them, and they push me and my staff.
“You can win one [title], that can happen, but when you win two in a row in this league against incredible managers and clubs investing a lot of money, it means you have done really well. That is the reality.
“[Next season] will be tougher, but we will be stronger too. I have the feeling next season that we will come back and try to be who we are right now.”