Now, Pep Guardiola may be someone who thrives under pressure but admitting he could be fired by Man City unless he wins the Champions League this season is piling the pressure on himself.
Pep, it’s okay, you’re probably not going to get fired, are you? Even though they are 22 points behind leaders Liverpool this season, it has been far from a disaster given their defensive injuries coupled with the general brilliance of Jurgen Klopp‘s side.
After delivering back-to-back Premier League titles with huge points tally and smashing records along the way, plus the FA Cup and two League Cups, Guardiola has told our partners Sky Sports in the UK that he could be fired if they don’t beat Real Madrid in the last 16 of the UCL and don’t win the one competition that crave above all else.
“I want to win the Champions League. I dream [of it] and I will enjoy preparing for the games against Madrid, to see what we can do and this process, two weeks before, will be the happiest moments of my profession, to imagine what we can do to beat them,” Guardiola said. “If we don’t beat them, OK, come the chairman or the sport director and say, ‘It’s not good enough, we want the Champions League, I’m going to sack you’. OK, [I’d say], ‘Thank you, it was a pleasure’. I don’t know [if this would happen]. It has happened many times and could maybe happen.”
Guardiola was pushed by the reporter as he said this as they said ‘but the owners aren’t going to say that, are they?’ Pep, ever Mr. Serious, said they could.
Two things go through my mind here: 1) is Pep trying to look for a way out of Man City? 2) is he sending out a message to his players that they better deliver in the UCL or risk being sold in the summer?
A bit of both may be true. Guardiola knows the expectation levels at Man City are huge and he’s lived up to them so far but the one thing missing is what he was brought into do: win the Champions League. However, with City so far behind Liverpool in the title race but in no real risk of not finishing in the top four, all of their focus has to be on winning the Champions League.
They are in the League Cup final and the last 16 of the FA Cup too, so could end the season with four trophies (if we are counting the penalty kick win against Liverpool to win the Community Shield) and second place in the PL.
Not bad at all but only winning the Champions League will salvage the season in the eyes of Pep and the Man City hierarchy. The pressure is on.