London: Manchester City will be fighting for titles this season under Pep Guardiola despite their struggles, his Tottenham Hotspur counterpart Mauricio Pochettino said ahead of their Premier League clash at the Etihad on Saturday.
City made a flying start under the Spaniard, winning their first 10 games in all competitions, but have won only nine of 22 since. They are currently fifth in the standings and 10 points behind leaders Chelsea.
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After being thrashed 4-0 by Everton at Goodison Park last weekend in the biggest domestic league defeat of Guardiola's managerial career, the Spaniard effectively ruled City out of the title race.
In contrast, Spurs have jumped into second spot on 45 points with six straight league wins and will be aiming for seven in a row for the first time since May 1967.
But Pochettino, who featured for Espanyol several times against Guardiola when he was playing for Barcelona, has backed the under-fire Spaniard to silence the doubters.
"Be careful, they're only three points behind us and they're in the Champions League. The judgment is at the end (of the season)," he told reporters when asked if he felt 46-year-old Guardiola was struggling in his first season in England.
"For me it means nothing for City to lose 4-0 - it won't change my admiration for Guardiola or what I think about him," said former Argentina international Pochettino.
"He's in a process at City and he needs time. He's in a position still where they can win titles. We must wait.
"He doesn't need to show his real quality as a coach or how he manages a team. He showed enough at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. But sometimes you have to manage the expectation.
"You cannot win titles after a few months. You need to wait until the end and I am sure that Guardiola will fight with Manchester City at the end for big things for sure."
Even if City's title charge has run aground, they are in the last 16 of the Champions League, where they face AS Monaco next month, and visit Crystal Palace in the FA Cup fourth round.
Asked if Guardiola faced a different challenge to when Pochettino arrived in England to take over at Southampton in 2013, the Argentine said it was an impossible to compare.
"Guardiola won 21 titles and me still none. You cannot compare me with him. We arrived at a different period, club, future expectation - it was all different."