Since Pep Guardiola took over at Manchester City in 2016, the club have won major trophies, yet he says his tenure will be judged by his success in the Champions League, a piece of silverware that has so eluded the English champions. Ahead of the 1-1 draw against RB Leipzig, he admitted: “That’s public opinion. It doesn’t mean that I agree with it, but, absolutely, I will be judged on that,” said the 52-year-old Spaniard.
From the first day after his arrival, the Champions League has been like a millstone hanging around his neck. “After I arrived here, before the first Champions League game, the first time I sat in front of the media, people said I was here to win the Champions League. I said, “What?”
“If I were the manager of Real Madrid – that won’t happen – I could understand it, but here, I don’t know. But I accept it. “No matter how much I go through, it won’t change that,” said Guardiola, who last won the Champions League in 2011.
Although he is constantly asked about his perceived underachievement in this tournament, he says it is a tournament he holds close to his heart. “It’s wonderful: to play teams from another part of Europe, not the same as England. It is special, very nice to show our club all over Europe,” he said.
Under Guardiola, City topped the league in four of his six seasons in charge, developed a distinct identity and style of play, yet the missing continental trophy dimmed the luster of his tenure. The closest they came to Champions League glory was when they reached the final in 2021, where they lost 1-0 to Chelsea.
It also annoys captain Kevin de Bruyne. “We haven’t won it but we’ve done really well in the Champions League and I know people base everything on winning. “Obviously I want to win it but I know until we get it I’m going to get the same questions and I’m fine because people judge you on that. “We’re just trying to win these games and be the best people and team we can be,” he said.
“I know people base everything on just winning, but I feel there are a lot of circumstances in these kinds of games – the Madrid game, the Tottenham game where we deserved to go through but didn’t. These are moments in matches where these things happen,” he added.