The left-back recently returned to action to see his gaffer become the fastest manager to 100 victories in the English top tier
Oleksandr Zinchenko has hailed Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola as the “best in the world” after he became the fastest manager to 100 victories in Premier League history.
Sunday’s 2-0 victory over Sheffield United brought up a century of wins from just 134 matches, beating the record previously held by Jose Mourinho, who took 142 games.
Guardiola was quick to praise his players and backroom staff for helping to reach the landmark but Zinchenko says the City coach deserves his fair share of the credit.
“It’s unbelievable. He’s the best in the world, no doubt,” the Ukrainian said.
“For me, the most important thing is he knows the right thing to say at the right time, and the team feels these type of moments. Of course, he is unbelievable with tactics.”
Zinchenko was back in the side for his first Premier League appearance since September after suffering a knee injury that forced him to have surgery.
It was a blow for the 23-year-old, who had established himself as Guardiola’s first choice left-back in last season’s tense title triumph.
He was yet another regular to miss a large chunk of the campaign, with serious knee injuries also ruling out team-mates Aymeric Laporte and Leroy Sane. But he hopes that he has now put the issue behind him.
“I didn’t expect it to be honest,” he said. “It was a simple kick, I did it by myself, nobody even touched me. It was in the training session before the game against Crystal Palace.
“I came inside to check my knee and the scan didn’t show anything but at the end of the day it was blue and became so big.
“We had another scan and decided on surgery. It was not so serious, around 50 minutes or so, but now it’s fine.”
Without three of their main players, City have fallen 14 points behind leaders Liverpool having played a game more.
Guardiola has admitted that he has given up any thoughts of catching Jurgen Klopp’s side and Zinchenko says they need to concentrate on getting back to the sort of form they have shown in their two previous seasons.
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“Of course it’s a massive gap,” he added. “But we have to play our game every single time and show our class when we’re on the pitch and at the end of the season we will see what’s happened.”
City are back in action on New Year’s Day against Carlo Ancelotti’s Everton for what will be their third of five games in 11 days.
The final game of that run – the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against Manchester United – falls on January 7 when most Ukrainians will be celebrating Christmas. Zinchenko, though, says he and the squad have to cope with whatever the schedule throws up.
“We are used to it, to be honest. The Premier League is the strongest league in the world, so we have to be ready. That’s it,” he said.
“I don’t celebrate Christmas in this kind of time. My Christmas is January 7, so I don’t mind it.”