Pep Guardiola rejected any suggestion that complacency was to blame for Manchester City’s shock 2-1 at Wolves on Saturday as the champions’ perfect start to their Premier League defence came to an end.
Manchester City had won their opening six games in their quest to become the first side to ever win four consecutive English top-flight titles.
Wolves had taken just four points from their first six games but stunned Manchester City at Molineux thanks to Hwang Hee-chan’s winner.
Guardiola had dismissed talk of City cruising to victory on the eve of the game and said it was outsiders rather than his players that expected a comfortable afternoon.
“You have to ask other people what they think about that (complacency),” said Guardiola.
“When you win four Carabao (League) Cups in a row and the Premier League four years in five and a treble, it is not complacency. Sometimes the other players can do better than you and beat you.”
The visitors missed the presence of the suspended Rodri as Wolves were a constant threat on the counter-attack.
Despite the Spaniard’s absence, Guardiola again overlooked Kalvin Phillips as Mateo Kovacic started in the holding midfield role.
The Croatian was partly at fault for the opening goal, but Guardiola refused to point the finger of blame at Kovacic, or having to deal without Rodri, who was sent off against Nottingham Forest last weekend.
“Mateo is an exceptional player and it was the first time he played in that position,” added Guardiola. “When we win and lose we do it together. Today we were not at our best.”
The victory was sweet for Wolves boss Gary O’Neil after a difficult start to the season.
A second win of the campaign lifts Wolves four points clear of the relegation zone.
“Beating the best team in the world, and possibly ever, is a massive result for us,” said O’Neil.
“Beating Manchester City with where they are, and off where we were, and what people were saying about it. To answer it with that was pretty pleasing.”
Guardiola had to watch from the stands after picking up three yellow cards for his behaviour on the touchline in the early weeks of the season.
City’s start made for uncomfortable watching for their boss as Pedro Neto burst past Nathan Ake and his low cross was deflected by his Portuguese compatriot Ruben Dias into his own net.
Guardiola responded by substituting Matheus Nunes on his return to Molineux at half-time for Oscar Bobb.
The 20-year-old won the free-kick from which Julian Alvarez brilliantly found the top corner to equalise.
But City’s momentum was quickly halted when Hwang swept home his fifth goal of the season.
Hwang’s first effort was blocked by Dias, but the Korean made the most of his second chance when Matheus Cunha laid the loose ball back into his path.
Only Erling Haaland has scored more than Hwang in the Premier League so far this campaign but the Norwegian was kept quiet as City struggled to break through the mass ranks of the Wolves defence.
The chances that did come to the treble winners fell to the wrong men as Phillips curled wide and Kyle Walker shot straight at Jose Sa.
Defeat could see Manchester City lose top spot by the end of Saturday should Liverpool win at Tottenham.
And it ramps up the pressure on City’s trip to Arsenal next weekend with the Gunners now just one point behind their title rivals.