Ruben Dias: Manchester City primed to peak at just the right time

Portugal defender insists treble winners are ready to go on another long unbeaten run

Manchester City's Ruben Dias says February is always when the team hits top gear. EPA
Powered by automated translation

Ruben Dias has told Manchester City's rivals to forget about winning any silverware this season as the defending English and European champions are about to embark on a trademark surge to glory.

Despite winning just one game in a six-game stretch through November and December, City are third in the Premier League, five points behind leaders Liverpool, with a game in hand.

Two wins from two since claiming the Club World Cup in Saudi Arabia has helped them to make up ground in the title race and, according to Dias, given the squad a renewed focus heading into the second half of the Premier League campaign.

City, as so often has been the case in the past, are rounding into form at the right time as they look to repeat their historic treble – FA Cup, Premier League and UEFA Champions League – from last season.

“I think generally we are starting to feel ourselves again,” explained Dias. “After what we did last season, we had to come down to earth and realise the small things that allowed us to do what we did before.

“We are more and more back on track. The moment you relax, a drop-off comes out of nowhere. There are still a lot of flights to have and there is a lot of work to be done.

“February is when the real things start. Obviously, you have to have put yourself in position to be there to feel that pressure. But in the end that’s when the real decisions start to be made. If you get to February in a good position in the league and still in every competition, then the big games come up fast.

“I like that feeling of playing under that pressure. If you are going to win something then you are going to be in uncomfortable places and under pressure on occasions. Even if you have won a lot before, it doesn’t matter at all because those feelings won’t change.

“If those feelings have changed then you are not as ready to win as you should be. As much as you can, you should want the pressure because it means you are in the right place.”

Dias’ assertion that the second month of the year is when City hit the turbo button has concrete foundations in the statistics.

In February last year, they beat Arsenal at the Emirates in the 2nd of a 25-match unbeaten run in all competitions that eventually saw them lift their third consecutive title on the way to their famed treble.

That unbeaten charge started on February 12 and ended on May 28 at Brentford on the final day of the Premier League season in a game of no consequence to Guardiola’s side.

In February 2022, City won five out of six games and scored 18 goals in the process. In February 2021, they won all eight games they played, including successes over Arsenal and Liverpool both away from home as part of a mammoth 28-game unbeaten run.

It's little wonder Dias is feeling good about life at the club.

“I’m very comfortable with myself, I enjoy the club, I enjoy the city and I enjoy my home,” the Portugal defender told City’s official Podcast.

“It was easy to come for football reasons but it wasn’t easy for me to give up Lisbon, which is my one and only paradise. You obviously have to adapt because you lose what has been a normal day. If you are happy at work you are probably happy in life. I really feel comfortable in Manchester."

One thing making life and work easier for the 26-year-old Dias, signed for an initial €68 million from Benfica in 2020, is the presence in the City team of Spanish international Rodri.

Since joining the club from Atletico Madrid in 2019, Rodri has developed into arguably the world's best holding midfielder and City are statistically proven to enjoy superior results when he plays.

“In terms of Rodri, there are a lot of beautiful words I could say and they would come very easily," added Dias. "He’s one of the best in his position. Normal number sixes are usually either good with the ball at their feet and not so good defensively or the opposite way around; he has got both attributes.

“He is one of those players that whenever tough times come, he stands up and stands out. He’s there for you. When times get rough, I know he will be by my side. He makes the difficult look easy. You know when it matters he will be there.

“You don’t really know players until you have seen them when the team is in a tough moment. That’s when good players are made. I was forged like that. You can’t shut your eyes for a moment.”

Man City 2-0 Sheffield Utd - player ratings

Updated: January 04, 2024, 5:00 PM