Just don’t call this another friendly. 

That is not in Pep Guardiola’s vocabulary – and if the Manchester City manager required any further incentive to make a statement of intent against Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp provided it. 

The German’s ‘Fantasia land’ comment about City’s spending power lit the blue touch paper ahead of the Community Shield – so much so that everyone from the club’s chief operating officer Omar Berrada to Guardiola himself have felt the need to put the record straight. 

“It bothers me,” said Guardiola. “Of course it bothers me, because it’s not true that we spend £200million in every transfer market.

“That is not true. So it’s Liverpool, you’ll never walk alone, so it’s not a small team. It’s Liverpool.

“So of course I don’t like it, because it’s not true.”

What is true is that Liverpool provide the greatest threat to Guardiola’s hopes of a hat-trick of Premier League titles, which would see him join Sir Alex Ferguson as the only man to achieve that feat. 

Klopp’s side pushed City right down to the wire last season, missing out on the title by a single point. 

Their Champions League triumph shortly after was confirmation of their status as the coming force in English football – and it’s safe to assume the side that finishes above them this term will walk away with the title. 

Sunday will be dubbed a chance to deliver a psychological blow – and if anyone needed to know how seriously Guardiola will take the traditional curtain-raiser at Wembley, they should cast their minds back to May and City’s trophy parade through the streets of Manchester. 

An unprecedented domestic treble wasn’t enough for the Catalan. No, his team were the ‘Fourmidables.’ 

Images of the Premier League, FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield adorned the two coaches that made their way through streets lined with thousands of fans in the city centre. 

It left City open to a certain degree of ridicule. ‘Who counts the Community Shield as a serious piece of silverware?’

But this is Guardiola’s way – and he has drummed the same winning ethos into his players. From the moment he arrived at the Etihad he informed his squad that there was no such thing as a friendly.

His demands would be the same whether it was a Champions League semi-final or the FA Cup third round. 

It’s why no sympathy was shown to Rotherham or Burton in cup ties last season – hit for seven and nine respectively amid talk of showing professional respect to opponents. 

It is that attitude that has driven a City side that has accumulated 198 points in two seasons and won five of the last six major domestic trophies. 

No matter how hard Guardiola tries to convince us otherwise, the Community Shield does not fit that description – but Sunday’s clash can certainly be considered a barometer of the season to come.

Community Shield preview: Liverpool v Man City

“I think in Spain especially and in my period there and in Germany the people have more enthusiasm for it,” said Guardiola.

“But from what the people say here it’s a traditional tournament and it will continue for many years, and it’s an honour to play in it because to play in it means you have to win the Premier League or the FA Cup so it’s not easy to play in that competition and being there means a lot. 

“We won both so that is why I think we deserve to play in this competition on Sunday.”

Notably Guardiola says he has already seen enough to be confident there will be no complacency among his players, even after two years of dominance. 

“I will be nicer this season, they’ve convinced me,” he said. “If they can’t do it, it will be because the opponents are better. 

“At the end of last season I didn’t know how we’d handle our success, but it was incredible what they’ve done. The target is to keep going.”

This is the first time Guardiola has entered a fourth season in the same job since his experience at Barcelona prompted him to take a year’s sabbatical. 

He has two more years to run on his City contract and insists he has no plans to walk away.

Jurgen Klopp: Don’t expect to see the best Liverpool side in the Community Shield

“I’m a little bit different to my third season in Barca, I’m more calm,” he said. “I trust my players more. I’m 48 not 26.

“It’s not comparable. First its my home town (Barca). I grew up there, the feelings are more intense, different, and the relation with media is different, and how we train day by day is different. 

“Here we are isolated, working so comfortable – and that’s why it’s nice. 

“When you win you are a good manager, when you lose you are a bad manager everywhere. But there the relations with players, managers, media is higher, it’s much higher. Here it’s more comfortable.”

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