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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 September 2018

Bernardo Silva interview: Manchester City players 'will do our best to be even better next season'

The Portuguese winger was the most used City player in Pep Guardiola's record-breaking side. He tells Richard Jolly the next target is 'to try to keep the level in the Premier League and do something better in the Champions League

It is the evening after the day before and, in between savouring the sight of thousands of Manchester City fans attending a title-winning parade, Bernardo Silva is already casting his thoughts forward. The Portugal international’s thoughts are peppered with the language of improvement, talking of trying to do, and get, better.

Rewind little more than 24 hours earlier and there were more spontaneous displays of joy. Gabriel Jesus’s injury-time winner at Southampton took City into territory that was previously uncharted: they became the centurions, the three-digit team, the first to reach triple figures in a season in English top-flight history.

“To break that record was amazing,” Silva said. “To achieve 100 points was something that no one ever did. To get that was so, so good and it was a great feeling that we were the only team that achieved 100 points in the Premier League, so of course it was special. It is fantastic to celebrate with our fans.”

Kevin de Bruyne suspects that 100-point total will never be bettered. “It is a fantastic achievement,” added Silva. “We broke all the records.” If that sounds an exaggeration, it is not much of one. Most points? Most wins? Most goals? Most away wins? Best goal difference? Biggest title-winning margin? Most consecutive wins? Most passes in a game? They all now belong to City.

If there feels an inevitability to it all now, it is worth remembering that when Silva agreed to join City, becoming their first summer signing of 2017, they had just finished 15 points behind Chelsea. “When I arrived, everyone knew we had a good team,” reflected the former Monaco midfielder. “No one knew what we could do.”

The first indications arrived in autumn. City were held by Everton in August. They did not drop points again until New Year’s Eve as they reeled off those 18 victories. “Probably around October-November when we starting winning a lot of games in a row, we realised we had a fantastic team and we thought we could do something special,” Silva said.

He pinpointed two triumphs in that run as the most significant of the 32 league wins City amassed. “Probably Manchester United at Old Trafford when we beat them because it was a very important game for us,” he said. “Also to beat Chelsea at Stamford Bridge.”

December’s 2-1 derby victory featured City’s trademark slick passing, but came courtesy of two uncharacteristically scrappy set-piece goals, scored by David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi. September’s 1-0 defeat of the reigning champions was sealed in spectacular style by De Bruyne.

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“Kevin has been outstanding this season and hopefully next season he can do even better because when you have players like him that can decide games, it is always good,” Silva said.

If De Bruyne was the pick of a brilliant bunch, City’s best player this season, Silva was the busiest. His 53 appearances were more than anyone mustered, even if the excellence of Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling limited his number of starts. “We have a lot of fantastic players and it has been a pleasure to play alongside them,” he said.

The youth of this City side indicates the improvement a perfectionist manager, in Pep Guardiola, and a driven group of players pursue is possible. The reality is that it is hard to top a domestic campaign when City dropped only 14 points. But as Silva said: “We will do our best to be even better next season, to try to keep the level in the Premier League and do something better in the Champions League.”

With English records tumbling, Europe offers the final frontier for Guardiola’s history makers.

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