Monday 16 September 2019

'We fail if we don't win the Champions League' - Pep Guardiola says his critics expect him to win in Europe

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola. Photo: Martin Rickett/PA

Pep Guardiola claims some critics will write his Manchester City side off as a failure if they do not win the Champions League.

City have spent more than £500million on players since Guardiola took charge at the Etihad Stadium in 2016.

They won the Premier League in some style last season and are again top of the table this term, but Guardiola knows expectations are high.

"For the people who don't love us too much, who use money as an argument, then we have failed if we don't win the Champions League," said Guardiola, whose side continue their latest European campaign at Lyon on Tuesday.

"For the others, especially our fans who say they enjoy watching our games and enjoy what we are doing, I'm pretty sure they won't have regrets about what these guys have been doing every three days for the last 15 months.

"That is the best compliment, the best success the team can have. But, of course, we want to qualify, continue our level in the Premier League and arrive in the best possible condition with everybody fit to challenge again to go quite far.

"After that, the competition speaks for itself. We can have a lot of desire and wishes but the competition is so tough."

City can secure their place in the last 16 for a sixth successive season with a draw at the Groupama Stadium and a victory would seal top spot in Group F with a game to spare.

Guardiola's side have recovered well by reeling off three successive victories in the competition since suffering a surprise 2-1 loss to Lyon at the Etihad Stadium in September.

They now lead the group by three points from Lyon, who have drawn their last three fixtures.

But Guardiola, wary of what occurred last time the sides met, is not taking anything for granted against a side who can also make sure of progress with a victory.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Guardiola said: "They were better. In the first half they were better than us. They have a strong team. They have top, top players.

"When you lose the first game at home the group stage becomes so tough but we did our job, winning the next three and the other opponents drew.

"We tried to avoid arriving in the last game demanding a win to qualify and we have a big chance tomorrow. We reacted so well but the job is not over. Hopefully we can close it tomorrow."

Bernardo Silva, Ilkay Gundogan and Gabriel Jesus all failed to travel due to knocks but City are hopeful the problems are not serious.

"I would prefer to have all the squad but it is what it is," Guardiola said. "We have to adapt."

Guardiola added that youngster Phil Foden was "definitely" ready to start should he be required.

In a light-hearted moment, Guardiola jokingly aimed a fake punch at a reporter asking him in French to compare himself with his Manchester United counterpart and rival Jose Mourinho.

"I am not the guy to answer that," he said.

PA Media

The Throw-In: Selection dilemma for Dublin and All-Ireland ladies football final preview

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport