Pep Guardiola wants you to know one thing: he isn’t bothered about winning the UEFA Champions League at Manchester City.
Guardiola won the trophy twice in his first four years as a manager at Barcelona, but hasn’t won it since 2011 as he failed to win the Champions League in his time at Bayern Munich.
Many believed the main reason Guardiola was hired by City was so that they could dominate Europe and win the Champions League, but Pep, on the eve of their UCL quarterfinal second leg against Tottenham (City trail 1-0 from the first leg at Spurs), insisted that is not the case.
“I know people say I came here to win the Champions League, but I didn’t come here to win the Champions League, honestly,” Guardiola said. “I came here to play the way my team has been playing in the last 20 months. That is why I came here – to play the way I want to play and of course I want to win the Champions League.
“A lot of big clubs are not here now in these stages, so what is important is how you handle things for 11 months. That is why I have said many times the Premier League, for me, is the most important title, showing every three days that you are there. Being there every time sends out a good message. What we need to do tomorrow is put our hurt on the pitch, our desire and after we will see.”
Guardiola sarcastically called his time at Bayern Munich “a big failure” for not winning the Champions League, but if he doesn’t lead City to European glory, will his time at the Etihad Stadium be similarly ridiculed?
Nope. He has already led City to a record-breaking PL title win during the 2017-18 campaign and the way his team have dominated the league, after the struggles of his first season in charge, shows have he has proven everybody wrong. There is the argument though that after winning the PL last season, the UCL should be City’s priority this season.
City are the bookies favorites to win the Champions League as they aim to win a historic quadruple this season, but Pep is staying focused on beating Liverpool to the PL title and then letting things shake out in the cup competitions. Could that see players rested for the league game against Spurs on Saturday rather than playing on Wednesday? Let’s wait and see, but it seems like Guardiola is suggesting that and it was certainly the case in the first leg as Kevin De Bruyne started on the bench.
But ahead of the huge UCL last eight second leg against Spurs on Wednesday, Guardiola has called for City’s fans to rise to the occasion as the away atmospheres in knockout games have been “incredible” over the years.
“We need it. We really need it. I want to see if they (the supporters) want to get to the semi-final, not just the players,” Guardiola said. “The players I don’t doubt after 20 months. I want to see if our fans really want to get to the semi-finals. I want to see tomorrow.”