PEP GUARDIOLA believes he is turning Sergio Aguero from a goal-hanger into a more complete striker.
But he still wants more goals from the Argentine hitman — who has struck ten times in his last ten matches.
Guardiola faces another selection dilemma as Gabriel Jesus is expected to return from injury before the end of the month.
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Brazilian Jesus, 20, broke a bone in his foot in February but Aguero has raised his game in his absence.
Guardiola said: “He’s involved in the game more now. My feeling before was he was just waiting to score a goal.
“Now he’s involved in the game. Not just the defensive part — he’s helped us a lot — but he is doing all he can do to create chances.
“There are no complaints about what he has done after the injury for Gabriel Jesus.”
Aguero, 28, rattled in 11 goals in his first six games of the season and was still challenged by his boss to score even more.
But Pep insists the Argentine’s commitment was never in doubt.
He said: “Sergio’s attitude was always good, from the beginning.
“Maybe now he understands better what we’re looking for.
“He’s trying and that is what I want. When he misses chances, always you can improve, but we’ve no complaints.”
Guardiola admits he is already planning for next season.
It remains to be seen whether it includes his 28-goal top-scorer Aguero.
City are keeping tabs on Arsenal ace Alexis Sanchez — and the Chilean is interested in a reunion with his former Barcelona manager.
Pep added: “At the end of the season, we’ll decide.
“I’m so involved, I’ve spoken with director of football Txiki Begiristain and others. But I’m involved in finishing the season.
“After that we have time to think about what is best for the next season. We have to improve, though.”
Europe will be high on Guardiola’s agenda and the Spaniard admits it has been tough to watch the Champions League quarter-finals from the outside for the first time.
The City boss had reached the semis in each of his previous seven years as a manager.
But his first season at the Etihad saw him crash out at the last-16 stage.
Pep’s troops lost on away goals to Monaco in a thrilling tie that ended 6-6 on aggregate.
And seeing other teams compete in what he calls the “most beautiful competition” has helped him refocus on where his current club are.
With seven games remaining in the Premier League, City still have much work to do just to ensure they are at Europe’s top table next season.
And the former Barca chief accepts City are “far away” from becoming a major force.
He said: “We still need to qualify for next season. Not all the magnificent teams are in the quarter-finals.
“The Champions League is so demanding. People don’t believe you’re out but a lot of situations happen.”
Guardiola believes City’s squad is currently lacking in the kind of experience needed to challenge at the latter stages of the Champions League.
But it is often overlooked many of these players were involved when Manuel Pellegrini led them to last season’s semis.
And there they were only beaten by a single goal against a Real Madrid side who went on to lift the trophy.
TOP 6 GAMES TO GO
CHELSEA — P 31, Pts 75
Tomorrow – Man Utd (a). Apr 25 – Southampton (h). Apr 30 – Everton (a). May 8 – Middlesbrough (h). May 12 – West Brom (a). May 15 – Watford (h). May 21 – Sunderland (h).
TOTTENHAM — P 31, Pts 68
Today – Bournemouth (h). Apr 26 – Crystal Palace (a). Apr 30 – Arsenal (h). May 5 – West Ham (a). May 14 – Man Utd (h). May 18 – Leicester (a). May 21 – Hull (a).
LIVERPOOL — P 32, Pts 63
Tomorrow – West Brom (a). Apr 23 – Crystal Palace (h). May 1 – Watford (a). May 7 – Southampton (h). May 14 – West Ham (a). May 21 – Middlesbrough (h).
MANCHESTER CITY — P 31, Pts 61
Today – Southampton (a). Apr 27 – Man Utd (h). Apr 30 – Middlesbrough (a). May 6 – Crystal Palace (h). May 13 – Leicester (h). May 16 – West Brom (h). May 21 – Watford (a).
MANCHESTER UNITED — P 30, Pts 57
Tomorrow – Chelsea (h). Apr 23 – Burnley (a). Apr 27 – Man City (a). Apr 30 – Swansea (h). May 7 – Arsenal (a). May 14 – Tottenham (a). May 17 – Southampton (a). May 21 – Crystal Palace (h).
ARSENAL — P 30, Pts 54
Monday – Middlesbrough (a). Apr 26 – Leicester (h). Apr 30 – Tottenham (a). May 7 – Man Utd (h). May 10 – Southampton (a). May 13 – Stoke (a). May 16 – Sunderland (h). May 21 – Everton (h).
Yet Guardiola said: “We are far away. Not in terms of the quality, in terms of how they play situations. We had that in the Monaco game.
“We were able to score six in two games and we’re out. It’s about how you live and handle the situation.
“For that you need experience. Hopefully we got that experience there and it’ll help us next season.”
Even so, Pep is unwavering in his belief that he can help City achieve the owners’ aims of one day becoming the kings of Europe.
He said: “The exception is not to be out once with City in the last 16, quarter-finals or semi-finals.
“That can happen. The exception is seven times in a row at the semi- final or final.”
To stay in control of their top-four spot, City must win at Southampton today against a side who drew 1-1 at the Etihad in October.
The City boss said: “They have very good midfielders, all the strikers are so fast, they play the wingers inside — all of them have quality.
“The full-backs are guys who go up and down. I was impressed when they came to the Etihad.”