Pep Guardiola believes he will be called a failure if Manchester City exit the Champions League to Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.
City take a 2-1 lead to Germany as they look to reach a first European semi-final under the Catalan. They are also in the FA Cup semi-finals, the League Cup final and 11 points away from regaining the Premier League title, but Guardiola is bracing himself for more criticism if they got out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage for a fourth successive season.
He is a double Champions League winner as a manager, but this year will mark a decade since Barcelona’s 2011 victory, but Guardiola defended his record while insisting he did not deserve the credit for the triumphs at the start of his coaching career.
“In 10 years, I was always in the quarters and semis,” he said. “But I didn't win the Champions League with Barcelona, we won the Champions League.
“If I retire now or in five or 10 years, what happens in my career I didn't expect it. I’m so grateful and happy but this is a business and the business is to win. I know if we don’t win, I’ll be a failure. And if we do it’s ‘how good is Pep?’”
City suffered a shock defeat to Leeds on Saturday but Guardiola believes he would be 'crazy' to doubt his team. "After 27 victories in 29 games, if I don't trust in the players, we will have a big, big problem, I would be crazy," he said.
City’s previous quarter-final exits to Liverpool, Tottenham and Lyon have been notable for them conceding goals in quick succession. Guardiola is unsure if they are better equipped to cope with setbacks. “They are human beings, people forget,” he said. “There are emotions in a game and many circumstances happen.”
City v Dortmund first leg player ratings
Ilkay Gundogan, who has played in all three quarter-finals, hopes they can cut out the errors that have cost them in the past.
“I know that we have a great team and are capable of going into the semi-finals,” City’s top scorer said. “We should have been there earlier in the last few seasons already but we were lacking something. People sometimes unnecessarily made individual mistakes that led to goals we conceded and then obviously it is tough.”
Gundogan believes City’s defensive improvement gives them their best chance so far as well as him the opportunity to enjoy the most prolific season of his career.
“I feel like we are much more stable at the moment, especially defensively,” he said. “The more you proceed in this competition, the more important it gets. It gives you a safe feeling when you know that your defensive line is working great."
The former Dortmund midfielder has scored 16 times so far and explained: “With the ball movement from our goalkeeper through the defenders and midfield, I don't feel that I need to get involved too much. It just gives me the opportunity to be in the right spaces at the right time and get into the positions where I have the chance to score.”
Gundogan struck in the 2013 final for Dortmund, when they lost to Bayern Munich. “Probably the biggest defeat I have faced in my career so far,” he said. “A bad day, sad day, frustrating day.”
Winning the Champions League represents an unfulfilled ambition for him. “When I was growing up watching at home with the family, midweek games, it was like a festival, we celebrated watching Champions League games,” he said. “It is the highest level you can play football at.”