LONDON — Until their name is cleared by UEFA, questions will remain about Manchester City’s incredible domestic treble. Justification was in the air at Wembley on Saturday.
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Moments after hammering Watford to win the FA Cup to complete something no other men’s team in English history had achieved, Pep Guardiola was asked questions, rightly so, about City’s achievements on the pitch being diminished by ongoing investigations off the pitch.
It is something you just can’t ignore.
At the final whistle at Wembley, a Man City fan somehow burst into the press seating area and as he was being escorted away by security he accused the media of ignoring Man City winning the domestic treble, saying that “Mo Salah will be on the back pages” tomorrow. That exchanged summed up the feeling of a large portion of Man City fans right now. Just check their responses on social media.
City are a club in full justification mood as they celebrate the most glorious season in their history.
With UEFA opening up another investigation into allegations of City deliberately circumventing financial fair flay (FFP) rules, a decision on what punishment they will receive is imminent after UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) has referred City to the CFCB adjudicatory chamber.
A minimum one-year ban from the Champions League has been reportedly recommended, and Guardiola is ready for any punishment coming their way.
“We are not guilty until proven,” Guardiola said. “When I say this squad make the first step forward with Sheikh Mansour, definitely. You can’t do that without top players. No way. Money helps to buy the incredible players we have. After that, we wait. If we are punished we will accept it. But I listen to my chairman and listen to my CEO and they give me the arguments why they are under investigation, and I trust them. When they tell me that we absolutely followed the rules, I believe them. If the opponent and contenders believe just money does that, it is okay.”
Guardiola was then asked about allegations that Roberto Mancini received separate payments from Abu Dhabi while he was in charge of Man City, and if he himself had ever been involved in similar payments, something he hadn’t answered previously when asked.
City’s boss wasn’t a fan of being asked that question minutes after completing the League Cup, Premier League and FA Cup treble.
“Do you know the question you are asking to me? Do you know the question you are asking me? If I received money from another situation right now, today. Honestly,” Guardiola fumed. “Do you think I deserve to have this type of question, what happened with Roberto I don’t know, the day I win the treble about if I received money in other situations…”
These questions will go on and City will continue to see their amazing victories, performances and trophies won on the pitch undermined until they are proven once and for all not guilty of the allegations brought about by the investigations brought up again after more details were released via Football Leaks.
Their fans feel like the achievements of their team aren’t lauded enough by the media, and the strong statements of the club against UEFA have put up a fence between themselves and the rest of the soccer world.
Guardiola’s achievement of winning the treble this season should not go without huge praise. Finances aside, he has created a remarkable team which is capable of ripping up the record books once again next season.
The Spanish coach admitted that this season wasn’t his best as a manager (that title will surely go to the 2008-09 campaign when he won the treble, including the Champions League, at Barcelona), but did take a shot at Liverpool and Tottenham reaching the Champions League final in Madrid on June 1, as City were denied a chance to win an even more historic quadruple.
“I wouldn’t say the best, but one of the best, sure,” Guardiola said. “In 10 months, to play in all competitions, and the fact that none of the other incredible teams have done this in this country, to be the first means that if one team is able to do that, another team is going to be able to repeat. We were the first and it means to be consistent every three days. I love the Champions League, but to do this is more difficult than winning the Champions League. We did it.”
Pep is following City’s fans and officials in feeling the need to add extra justification to their historic season.