Manchester City have won four Premier League titles in the past five seasons under Pep Guardiola, but they’ve failed to land a Champions League crown during his six years at the Etihad
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City have to go through the Champions League pain barrier before they finally conquer Europe.
Guardiola has guided City to four Premier League titles in five seasons to match an achievement of managerial greats like Sir Alex Ferguson and Bob Paisley. But the trophy the club covets most continues to elude Guardiola.
Guardiola was part of the Barcelona team that lifted that club’s first European Cup in 1992 – and then guided the Catalan giants to two Champions League triumphs in his first three seasons as a coach. However, since then, there have been a catalogue of near misses.
Guardiola admitted that they may never become kings of Europe. But he said: “In 1992, my club Barcelona did it. But do you know how many times they did not win the European Cup? A lot.
“It was much more than the decade we’ve had here at City. I would love more time, but maybe we will never win, ever. Maybe. But we have taken important strides.
“Last season, in the Champions League, we played 13 games, we won 11 and draw one. Was that a bad season? Are we failures? No, we weren’t failures. We were really good and we lost against a good team in the final. You focus on trying to do your best. Sometimes your destiny is already written and you can’t change it. But we accept it – and we go for it.”
When Manchester City were beaten by Chelsea in Porto last year, Guardiola made a point of kissing his runners-up medal while some City players tore them from around their necks. He felt that guiding the Blues to their first Champions League final was an achievement in itself.
Guardiola also recalled how Spain dominated international football for over a decade after winning their first trophy – bar the four-team European Nations Cup of 1964 – at the 2008 European Championship. And he feels Gareth Southgate is going through a similar process with England. Guardiola said: “The first one is the most difficult one. That is why I give so much credit to Roberto Mancini when Sergio Aguero scored to win the title in 2012.
“Spain had never won the World Cup or went to the semi-finals. The moment they did, they won the Euros, the World Cup and the Euros again. In 10 or 12 years they won all around the world. Remember the moment, Gareth – the guys clicked.
“People say, ‘Ah, you lost the final of the Euros or you lost the semi-final of the World Cup – but that is success, my friend. Standards have risen. Now, reaching the quarter-final is no good for England. The moment England breaks that level they can do it for many years.”