Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has dismissed talk of a repeat treble by saying he is “99.99” per cent certain it will not happen.
The champions are favourites to win a fourth Premier League title in succession and are also in strong contention to retain the Champions League and FA Cup.
Winning those trophies in back-to-back seasons would be unprecedented and therefore Guardiola, whose silverware haul in the past year also includes the European Super Cup and Club World Cup, feels it is unlikely.
The Spaniard said at a press conference: “Sextuple, ‘seventuple’? It’s a fairytale. It’s more complicated than that.
“We have 99.99 per cent possibility that we are not going to win the treble because it has never ever ever been done. The chances to do it again are like this [shows tiny gap between thumb and index finger] – minimal.
“If it was easy, another team – [Manchester] United in that time – would have done it again. It’s not easy.
“Everything is so difficult in this business. What we have done in the past is absolutely no guarantee of anything.
“What I like is that we are still there. We are close to the top of the league, we are in the other competitions.
“Hopefully we will arrive in March and April with the same feeling and if we have the same feeling, we will fight for the titles in May. This is the target.”
City have won their last nine games in all competitions and appear to be gathering familiar momentum at the right time.
Yet while the likes of Phil Foden and Julian Alvarez have earned praise for their form, and Erling Haaland and Kevin De Bruyne have returned from injury, Jack Grealish’s levels have dipped.
The England international was one of the key players in last season’s treble success but has not hit the same heights this term and has not started City’s last four games.
His most recent subdued form comes after an unsettling incident in December when his home was burgled, while his fiancee and members of his family were in the property, as he played in a game at Everton.
Guardiola accepts that could have affected him.
He said: “I’m pretty sure [it did affect him]. After a few days hopefully he forgot it but I’m pretty sure. I was affected too and I would have been affected too.
“It is not easy what happened with him, his girlfriend and family, so I’m pretty sure (it affected him).
“But he handled it really well. He is an incredible person with incredible humanity.
“Here, with security and people at his disposal, we have tried to help him but it happened. We haven’t spoken lately about that subject so hopefully it is fine.”
Guardiola pointed out Grealish’s lack of action was largely due to the form of other players.
He said: “It’s not a big, big problem – completely the opposite. He is competing with players at a high level. He is making steps to get his best (form). We need everyone and we need Jack.”