Pep Guardiola says Manchester City approached Tottenham four times over signing Harry Kane last summer – and admits he feared the lack of a striker could derail their season.
City look on course to win the Premier League title as they hold a nine-point lead over Liverpool, having scored 61 goals in 25 games.
However, there were questions at the start of the season as they drew blanks against Leicester, Tottenham, who they face on Saturday Night Football, Southampton and Paris Saint-Germain.
Guardiola has confirmed City tried to prise Kane away on multiple occasions, but Spurs were clear in their stance.
“I never was, in my 11 or 12 years, disappointed in what the club cannot do in the transfer market,” said Guardiola.
“I’ve never created a fire here because I represent the club and the club is always beyond myself by far.
“We tried [to sign Kane] but it was far away to be done because Tottenham was clear this is not going to happen. And when it happens two, three, four times, it’s over.
“Now you can say ‘Harry Kane didn’t come and everything is going well’ but at the time I didn’t know it. When we lost to Spurs and Leicester in the Community Shield. And I don’t know what will happen in the next few weeks.
“The club gave me players and I’m always delighted – and it’s then what we can do together. Maybe if we had a proper striker we would play with a striker but with the players we have we have to adapt.”
Without a recognised striker, City have shared the goals around this season, with Riyad Mahrez, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva all hitting double figures.
“The club is beyond everyone and I know they do the best for me,” added Guardiola.
“I know them; when we lose we are sad but nobody is pointing fingers saying ‘your fault, your fault, your fault.’ We don’t do that. I don’t feel they talk bad about me when we have bad results. That’s why I’m happy here. At other clubs when you lose it’s ‘what’s the problem?’
“The important thing is we are there to fight. Try to play better, no matter who plays. We will continue to do it.”
Raheem Sterling has been in impressive form recently with a hat-trick against Norwich last weekend and a fine goal in the 5-0 Champions League last-16 first-leg victory at Sporting Lisbon on Tuesday, taking him to 13 goals in all competitions this term.
Guardiola has expressed his delight at seeing the England forward “back to his best”.
“(His confidence) is higher,” Guardiola said. “Always the goal is a consequence of his confidence, and the confidence comes with his smile and mood.
“You cannot play well or improve when your mood is down. It’s impossible. Good faces – you cannot imagine how important it is.
“When you are all the time complaining, and I am not talking about Raheem because it is not the case and it was not the case, but in general, when someone was here complaining about lack of minutes or whatever, you cannot be better or improve and you are going to perform bad.
“I saw the first half against Sporting, you see the intensity in all his movements, defensively especially, offensively as well…it’s magnificent.
“It’s what Raheem has done (for) many, many years becoming, in terms of stats in terms of national team, a key player. And for us, for me personally, I am very glad he is back to his best because we need him.”
City may look to sign a striker again in the summer transfer window, although they did add to their forward line in January with the signing of Julian Alvarez from River Plate.
The 22-year-old signed a five-and-a-half-year contract with City before being loaned back to River until the end of the season. He scored a hat-trick in his first game since signing for City last week.
“The club is always working, it never stops,” said Guardiola.
“If five players say they want to leave, we have to be ready. Julian scored three goals in the last game for River Plate and Man City made an incredible deal because he is a player who moves really well, the goals he scores are like Jamie Vardy’s. We’ll see what happens in the future.”
City will face Kane for the first time since missing out on him last summer as he did not play in Spurs’ 1-0 win earlier in the season.