Pep Guardiola has admitted he will be a ‘failure’ if he doesn’t win the Champions League with Man City but now, on the cusp of an unprecedented quadruple, he has the most tantalising chance to banish TEN YEARS of hurt
- Pep Guardiola said he will be a ‘failure’ if he does not win the Champions League
- The Man City boss was recruited to deliver the club their first European title
- However, City have spectacularly crashed out under Guardiola in four seasons
- The Premier League leaders have their best chance of clinching the crown
- Starting with Dortmund tonight, Guardiola will hope for no more hiccups
Pep Guardiola offered a sobering reflection on the eve of Manchester City’s crucial Champions League quarter-final second leg against Borussia Dortmund.
‘If I retire now, or in five or 10 years, what happened in my career, it was completely unexpected when I started,’ he said.
‘I’m most grateful to the clubs, for the players I’ve had, the way we played and the way we’ve done it.
Pep Guardiola gave an honest reflection on the eve of tonight’s clash with Borussia Dortmund – the Man City boss said he will be a ‘failure’ if he does not deliver the Champions League trophy
‘These are words and theories that make me so grateful and happy but this is a business.
‘And the business is to win. If we don’t win, I’ll be a failure. And if we win, it’ll be “how good is Pep!”‘
It has been 10 years since Guardiola last had his hands on European club football’s most coveted prize, after his swashbuckling Barcelona team swept Manchester United aside 3-1.
Nobody could have foreseen on that glittering night at Wembley that the Spaniard would endure this barren run that has seen him go a decade without really getting close to lifting the famous trophy.
City have been sensational under Guardiola for the duration of the 2020-21 campaign
GUARDIOLA’S CHAMPIONS LEAGUE RECORD SINCE HIS 2011 TRIUMPH
2011-12: Semi final exit to Chelsea
Sabbatical for one year
2013-14: Semi final exit to Real Madrid
2014-15: Semi final exit to Barcelona
2015-16: Semi final exit to Atletico
2016-17: Round of 16 exit to Monaco
2017-18: Quarter final exit to Liverpool
2018-19: Quarter final exit to Spurs
2019-20: Quarter final exit to Lyon
By his lofty standards, 10 years without a Champions League triumph is a failure. But Guardiola stands on the cusp of reclaiming the European crown and an unprecedented quadruple with his high-flying Manchester City side.
Although they stumbled against Leeds United last Saturday, the Premier League is all-but tied up. City hold an eleven-point advantage over nearest rivals United, and need just eight points to mathematically guarantee the title.
Guardiola’s side also have a Carabao Cup final to contest against a Spurs side that is enduring a torrid run of form, while City remain strong contenders in the FA Cup and take on Chelsea in the semi-final this weekend.
Yet the Champions League is the elusive jewel in the crown that Guardiola desires. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss was recruited by City’s wealthy owners to deliver them the European trophy, and they have thus far been extremely patient with their coach despite a number of disappointing exits.
Chelsea knocked his all-conquering Barca side out in 2012 before he took a year’s sabbatical. He then left Germany having fallen at the semi-final stage in three successive campaigns while Lyon, Spurs, Liverpool and Monaco have all sent Guardiola’s City packing from this competition since he arrived from Munich in 2016.
Each of those defeats saw City spectacularly fall apart just when they were looking strong contenders to go all the way, with last season’s exit to Lyon a wound that Guardiola admitted to requiring a lengthy time to heal.
‘It was a tough moment [against Lyon],’ he said. ‘I felt so responsible for how the club felt, all the players, I was not able to drive them and I still right now feel so responsible.
Guardiola’s side stand on the cusp of an unprecedented quadruple at the end of the season
However, the Champions League has eluded Guardiola for the best part of a decade
‘But watching the games we have to accept the reality that we were not good enough.
‘We did not play bad, we played some real good moments but we sometimes made mistakes and in this competition you cannot do it.’
After so many false dawns, Guardiola will surely be more confident than ever that he can finally end his Champions League hoodoo and be standing on the winners’ podium in Istanbul on May 29.
The rewards for winning this season’s competition goes beyond an occupied space in the trophy cabinet, too.
The Spaniard, 50, has not had his hands on the coveted prize since 2011 with Barcelona
Since then, Guardiola has not come close to winning in Europe while at Bayern and City
City have been knocked out by Monaco, Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon under Guardiola
City have established their authority in English football, standing on the verge of a third league title in four years, but the timing of victory in Europe this season could set them up for years to come.
That is because this summer will see City battle it out with their fiercest European rivals for the signature of Dortmund hotshot Erling Haaland.
The 20-year-old’s agent, Mino Raiola, and father, Alf-Inge, were seen in Spain last month as they held talks with Barcelona and Real Madrid over a potential £154m move, and City have been strongly linked with the Norwegian earmarked as the successor to the departing Sergio Aguero.
Those wounds have taken some time to heal, with Guardiola ruing costly mistakes by his side
City have had the advantage of giving Haaland a first-hand take on what life in their star-studded side could look like, with Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan and Phil Foden impressing in the 2-1 victory at the Etihad Stadium in the first leg.
Dortmund are determined to keep hold of their star man this summer, but with Champions League football next season appearing unlikely, Guardiola will look to seize the opportunity to drive a wedge between Haaland and the Bundesliga side at Signal Iduna Park tonight. Moreover, if they end up winning the competition, they will surely be in the driving seat to land Haaland.
However, there is a long way to go before entertaining the notion of triumph in Istanbul. If City get past Dortmund, Guardiola’s side will then be required to beat Paris Saint-Germain over 180 minutes.
The rewards for winning this season’s competition go far beyond another trophy in the cabinet
Victory in Europe could see City get a jump on their rivals in the pursuit of Erling Haaland
Haaland, 20, saw City up close last week and Guardiola could drive a wedge between the Norwegian hotshot and his club by dumping them out of the competition tonight
Like City, the Parisians’ mega-rich owners are desperate for their side to clinch their first ever Champions League triumph. Under Thomas Tuchel, the French champions came close last campaign but stumbled at the final hurdle against Bayern Munich.
This time around, PSG – now coached by Mauricio Pochettino – avenged their Lisbon heartbreak to dump the Germans out of the competition and can taste European glory.
Guardiola has a very healthy record over his Argentine counterpart, winning 10 of their 18 matches contested and losing just three. Yet the defeat to Pochettino’s Spurs in 2019 will still sting for the Spaniard.
The pathway does not get easier for Guardiola, who would next face Mauricio Pochettino’s (right) PSG in the semi-finals; both men have great expectations to deliver a European trophy
The Parisians, like City, are desperate to get their hands on the European title for the first time
Expectations of this City side are soaring high, with fans and pundits excited over the potential of Guardiola and City to finally end their wait for the Champions League.
Having seen his side’s dominant domestic form fail to translate into European glory, Guardiola has remained unflappably single-minded, at least in public, when discussing what the future holds for City, always urging his players to focus on solely the next game.
But the Spaniard knows that he is close. Starting in Germany tonight, Guardiola will be hoping to avoid the uncharacteristic hiccups that have blighted City in years gone by.
‘I have the feeling we are close,’ he said last October. ‘Every season when I analyse when we go out, I have the feeling we are close.
‘At the same time, we make mistakes that make you feel we don’t deserve to go through. I don’t think it is mental. It is about desire and avoiding mistakes.
‘There are little gaps and we have to solve it. When you don’t solve it, it’s because you don’t deserve it.’
City are close, but Guardiola will hope for no more costly errors, starting tonight in Dortmund
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