Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are not Champions League failures despite last season’s final defeat
Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are not Champions League failures and described last season’s performance as an “incredible achievement”.
City have not won European football’s premier club competition and were beaten 1-0 by Chelsea in the 2020/21 final.
Guardiola’s side get their new campaign underway on Wednesday when they welcome RB Leipzig to the Etihad, and the City manager insists it is wrong to look back on the previous season as a failure.
“People can say Man City was a failure but it was an incredible achievement last season, playing really well in many of the games and losing well against a big contender,” Guardiola said.
“Every time I start this competition with drive. I’m incredibly happy here. Man City made a step forward last season, we improved a lot. We had 13 games and we won 11.
“We played incredibly well in Porto [in the group stage] when we drew and deserved to win. We lost the final.
“Now we start a new one and every team wants to win. We’re going to try but I won’t tell you which team is going to win because I don’t know it.”
Former Barcelona boss Guardiola, who has won the Champions League twice but not since 2011, says he has learned to live with a perception that he needs to win the competition with City to be judged a success in Manchester.
“I accept it. Every year is the same,” he added.
“If I win the Champions League I will be happy for the club. If I’m not able to do it, I’m not able.
“After, you can judge the success of my period.”
Rodri: We have no regrets
Rodri insists City have no regrets over last season’s final defeat and is determined to go one better this term.
“We had a great season,” the Spain midfielder said. “We were proud of what we achieved. It was the first time in our history we reached the final.
“We have no regrets. We will learn from this experience.
“The Champions League is decided by little differences. We have to build another building – a huge building – this season to achieve the Champions League.”
The expectation on City to win the Champions League has grown each year but Rodri does not feel extra pressure to deliver.
He added: “We don’t have to. It’s a dream for all of us but it’s not compulsory.
“The Champions League is such an unbelievable tournament where only one wins.”
Pep on leaving City in 2023: I didn’t say that
Guardiola has again denied saying he plans on leaving City when his current contract expires in 2023.
Speaking at an XP Investimentos event last month, Guardiola suggested he would need a rest after seven years in charge and revealed his next ambition is to manage a national team.
The 50-year-old Spaniard, who has won three Premier League titles since joining City in 2016, was quoted as saying in August: “After seven years on this team, I think I’m going to have a stop. I’m going to have to take a break, see what we’ve done.
“And in the process, I would like to coach a South American (team), European, playing a Copa America, I want to have that experience.”
However, when asked about those quotes and his potential plan to leave the club at the end of next season, Guardiola replied on Tuesday: “Did I say I’m going to leave next season? I didn’t say that.”
Angelino clarifies Pep comments
Leipzig’s former Manchester City left-back Angelino has denied saying Guardiola “killed” him as a player.
The Spaniard, who has had two spells at the Etihad Stadium, joined the German club initially on loan in January 2020 after failing to earn a regular place in Guardiola’s side.
In an interview earlier this year he said the situation under Guardiola “killed” him but, ahead of Wednesday’s clash against his old club, has made clear he was purely referring to his confidence levels.
It was not, he added, a suggestion Guardiola damaged his game or stunted his development. Indeed, he believes the opposite was the case.
“It is not that he killed me as a player,” said the 24-year-old. “I have always said he made me the player I am today.
“In the time I was with him I couldn’t realise how much I was improving in training but since the first day I arrived here at RB I saw the improvements I made, thanks to him.
“I will always be thankful. It is just that I didn’t play. That is why I said he killed my confidence. I didn’t get much game time but I will always be thankful for the help he gave me last time I came here.”
Leipzig, Champions League semi-finalists in 2020, have had a frustrating start to the season under new coach Jesse Marsch – losing three of their opening four Bundesliga games.
“Against Manchester City it is another difficult task but we are very enthusiastic about this challenge,” said Marsch, who succeeded the now Bayern Munich boss Julian Nagelsmann.
“They have a lot of quality but we think we can be intensive with and without the ball and make it difficult for them.”