Ilkay Gundogan admitted that Manchester City appear to lack the desire and hunger of years gone by after their surprise 2-0 defeat to Southampton in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.
The defending Premier League champions were expected to overwhelm a Saints side rooted to the foot of the table, but they failed to muster a single shot on target as goals from Sekou Mara and Moussa Djenepo guided Nathan Jones’ side into the last four.
City have enjoyed huge success in the Carabao Cup over the last decade, winning the competition six times including four years of dominance between 2017 and 2021, but never looked like getting past Southampton despite their fragile confidence.
Pep Guardiola rested Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland among others to begin with, but not even their introduction from the bench could turn the game in City’s favour.
The manner of the display led to a brutally honest interview from Gundogan, where the German questioned the appetite of City’s players to replicate their success of years gone by.
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“Definitely I would share that it was a lack of attitude today, lack of confidence, lack of commitment you know,” Gundogan told BBC Radio Manchester.
“It’s tough, against even a side that’s struggling a little bit in the Premier League right now, but we know that Southampton is always tough to play, always very aggressive you know and always able to score a goal. Unfortunately we made it too easy for them tonight and in the end we need to admit that with a performance like that we deserved to lose.”
“I feel like, especially today but even in the last few weeks, we had games where we could have done better,” he continued, citing problems in City’s play despite picking up wins.
“Maybe we’ve won games but I feel like something was a little bit missing, something’s off. Obviously with the quality we have in the squad we’re always able to win games even when we don’t have the best day, but at the moment it feels like there’s a special recipe missing in the team – performances, the desire and hunger is maybe not as it was in recent years.
“Hopefully it was the right wake up call for us. If it is it’s something good we can take out of the game. We have to do better, we need to start the hard work again, be humble because things will not come to us automatically, we need to deserve them.”