Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 1 December 2020

Pep Guardiola: it would not be a disaster if Manchester City fail to win the Champions League this season

Spaniard insists there is no pressure from bosses to win the big prize that has eluded the club in his time as manager in England

Pep Guardiola has insisted that it will not be a disaster if Manchester City do not win the Champions League this season.

The European Cup is the one prize to elude Guardiola, who did a domestic Treble last year, during his time in England.

He became a Champions League winner as a Barcelona player in 1992 and as manager in 2009 and 2011, but while a third triumph as a coach would allow him to equal the record of Bob Paisley, Carlo Ancelotti and Zinedine Zidane, Guardiola says he is satisfied with his lot.

And he said that City chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak and chief executive Ferran Soriano never set him the target of conquering Europe.

He said: “I’m not going to live the next 10 months thinking that if I don’t win the Champions League it will be a disaster in my life. My life is quite good. I’d be happier if we won it but [not] with my private life.

“I want to win it but if I don’t win I’m not going to kill myself, promise. In my first press conference here, it was the same question, you are here to win the Champions League.

"I said I spoke to Ferran and Khaldoon and they didn’t tell me that. They told me I was here to continue the project, to carry on what [Manuel] Pellegrini has done, to try to win one game and then another and see how far we get.”

Guardiola also used his former club as an example of how difficult the Champions League is to win.

“Sometimes you take a few years and sometimes you take one year,” he said. “Barcelona is my club in my heart and 1992 the first one and Barcelona was born a long time ago. They have been in it every season since they were born.”

City have reached the quarter-finals in successive seasons under Guardiola and he would prefer to have consistent qualification rather than one fine campaign followed by regular failure.

“We are making steps as a club,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to arrive once in the final then disappear for five years.”

Many of City’s match-going supporters would prefer to retain the Premier League and Guardiola believes they have to persuade supporters of the Champions League’s merits.

“I know for the fans the Premier League is most exciting,” he said. “That’s a reality of our club, we have to accept it. We are going to try and seduce our fans and say ‘we can do it.’ The only way to seduce them is winning games and playing good.

“I think it’s because in the past, the old generation were not there. Liverpool and [Manchester] United are used to being there. We were in the bars, watching Liverpool and United. That’s the culture of the club but I know how special this competition is.”

City host Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday in the battle of Group C’s two early winners. The Croatian champions sprang a surprise by beating Atalanta, who finished third in Serie A, 4-0 two weeks ago and Guardiola said: “Italy is a tough, tough league and they managed to beat them 4-0. It is a warning. We say, ‘be careful, guys’.”

Guardiola believes Rodri offers City another option at centre-back in the absence of the injured Aymeric Laporte and John Stones. “He can play there,” he said of the summer signing.

The Spaniard, a summer signing from Atletico Madrid, said he has had to adapt to being used as a lone defensive midfielder but feels it is simpler because it is a role Guardiola used to play himself.

“I never used to play this position but we play with lots of offensive players and not many defensive,” Rodri said. “It is easier for me to understand what he teaches me. I know football has changed but he has the same experience I live so he can translate his ideas to me.”

Guardiola’s assistant Mikel Arteta is another former defensive midfielder, as is Atletico manager Diego Simeone, and City hope to profit from Rodri’s past coaching.

“Mikel and I know it more than a winger’s position,” said Guardiola. “I never make a dribble in my career. I am pretty sure we will benefit from Rodri’s work with Simeone.”

Updated: September 30, 2019 08:48 PM

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