Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has stated that winning the Champions League will be the yardstick with which his time at the club will be measured. The former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss conquered Europe twice with the Spanish side to become one of the most sought after manager in world football. After taking a well-deserved one year break from the game, he resurfaced in Germany where he added three Bundesliga titles to his resume amongst other trophies.
But, his failure to make headway on the continent put a stain on his success. The serial German champions view league success as a given. And so most of the club's faithful were reportedly left unsatisfied with his achievements. City moved in to secure the Catalan’s future bringing him to the Etihad Stadium in 2016. Since moving to England, the former midfield maestro has brought his swashbuckling style of play with him which has also brought tremendous domestic success.
Just as at the Alianz Arena, that has still not been enough. City dominated the domestic scene under Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini with both managers even securing the double in their time. The Chilean took things a step further by leading the Blues to the semi-final of Champions League. That’s something Guardiola has not been able to achieve in his three seasons at City. Under the Catalan manager, the team has failed at the quarter-final stage losing out to Monaco, Liverpool and Tottenham respectively.
Last season’s capitulation was particularly painful given the fact that the team failed against an inexperienced Tottenham team that is nowhere near the Blues in quality. In fact, it’s very possible that the trophy would be at the Etihad Stadium cabinet by now if the team got past the Lillywhites. The disappointment has been felt by the club’s faithful at all levels. Hence, there have been suggestions that the manager’s time at the club will still be considered a failure if he doesn’t lead the team to win the competition.
The manager has now come out to state that himself.
“We will, of course, not just be judged on the way we play but the titles we win. That is the truth. It is as simple as that,” Guardiola said.
“Last year was an extraordinary one for us but people say, ‘But you didn’t win the Champions League’. That is why I will be judged, if we don’t win it in my final period here, that I will be a failure here. I know that.
“But I enjoy working with my players and my players still win a lot of games. Winning a certain way is what helps you to win the titles and we believe we can play that way. We will see at the end,” he concluded.
Having failed to progress in the last three attempts, the job is now harder as the team comes up against 13-time champions Real Madrid in the next round. It remains to be seen if the team can get past Zinedine Zidane’s men. The Frenchman appears to have found his winning touch again with the side. They recovered from 3-0 loss at Paris Saint-Germain in the first match of the group stage to go undefeated in the remaining five games. Los Blancos defeated crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid on Saturday to go six points clear on the table in La Liga title race.
Meeting Real Madrid in the knockout stages of the Champions League at any time is a hugely difficult task. At their best that becomes even more so. Therefore, Guardiola and his troops have it all to do later this month, and in the return leg to rewrite his legacy at the Etihad Stadium.
One can only hope the latest revelation spurs both the manager and the team to defy the odds.
To go all the way and finally bring home our first Champions League crown.