MANCHESTER, England (AP) It has become an alarming trait for Pep Guardiola in his post-Barcelona coaching career.
His teams keep on imploding on the big occasion. And the Manchester City manager knows it.
“I drop a lot of Champions League games in (the space of) 10 to 15 minutes, and I think about that many times,” he said, candidly. “It happened many times. Maybe it’s my fault.”
Guardiola was speaking soon after his City side conceded three goals in 16 minutes on Saturday to lose the Manchester derby 3-2 against United. It denied City the chance to wrap up the Premier League title in record time.
Three days earlier, City conceded three goals in 19 minutes to lose 3-0 at Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal matchup.
Guardiola, it seems, is struggling to get that collapse at Anfield out of his head. He constantly referred to it in news conferences before and after the United loss.
It might be because he has previous experience at Bayern Munich, the team he left after three seasons to join City and where he failed to win the Champions League in three attempts.
In the 2014 semifinals, Bayern conceded three goals in 18 minutes on the way to losing 4-0 at home to Real Madrid in the second leg and 5-0 on aggregate.
A year later, the German team was drawing 0-0 after 77 minutes at Barcelona in the first leg of the semifinals. Then Lionel Messi scored twice and Neymar added an injury-time third as Barcelona won 3-0.
Even in his first season at City last year, Monaco scored twice in the opening 30 minutes on its way to a 3-1 win in the second leg and a victory via the away-goals rule.
“When you play against Liverpool in Europe or against United, when you have momentum, you have to close the door,” Guardiola said. “We didn’t close it. When it’s time to defend, you have to defend.”
Still, Guardiola doesn’t think he needs to change his attacking, possession-based approach that has brought him plenty of trophies – and admirers – throughout his career, even if his two Champions League titles were at a Messi-inspired Barcelona in 2009 and ’11.
City is set to clinch a Premier League-League Cup double this season, playing some of the best football the English game has ever seen.
“I have to think about it, but I feel when you dominate and you create chances, you are closer to winning the games,” he said. “I think this season showed that. The numbers we have shown in terms of goals … not just the goals but when the team is stable, the chances we concede, I think we are the best with these type of players.”