Pep Guardiola has defended Manchester City after their Champions League semi-final defeat to Real Madrid, claiming that the club has spent in recent years to compete in all tournaments rather than prioritizing European glory.
The Citizens were defeated 6-5 on aggregate after losing the second leg 3-1 in extra time at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday, a contest they led 5-3 heading into stoppage time.
Although Guardiola has stated that he is doubtful whether he is the appropriate man to help City win Europe’s most coveted club title, the Spaniard has expressed in detail how proud he is of his players and their efforts at the highest level on all fronts.
“I don’t know,” Guardiola remarked when asked whether City can win the Champions League in the future during a lengthy press conference on Friday. It is a question I am unable to answer. Before Madrid, I’m not sure. You may ask me questions, but I may not have the answers to all of them. Football is an extremely unpredictable sport. We noticed it.
“Perhaps I’m wrong, but I have the impression that the Abu Dhabi owners bought this club and invested in these fantastic facilities and players in the same way that many other clubs across the world have done in recent years – not simply to win the Champions League.” They did so so that they may compete in all of the tournaments during the season. We’d like to do it (win the Champions League).
“We weren’t close enough, but we were present, in my opinion. Nothing they’ve done since they took over a decade ago with all the players before me makes sense unless they win the Premier League and the Champions League. We’ll try again next season, knowing how difficult it is because the teams are so strong. Simply add up all the teams who finished behind us in the quarterfinals, group stages, or failed to qualify. They are excellent, yet they are not present. I know the people want us to accomplish it, so I’ll be in charge from the start.”
“Perhaps I’m not up to the task of assisting the squad. Nobody knows what would have happened if different players or management had been involved. It is an honor for us to participate in as many competitions as possible.
I understand that some people do not appreciate what this club is doing, and that it may not be enough, but for me, being in the Champions League semi-finals after last season and making the steps to get there and competing against an outstanding team in this competition the way we did it home and away is incredibly remarkable. We were close, but not close enough to give Madrid their due.
“But it’s not about that; it’s about being back in the Premier League, in the FA Cup, in the Champions League semi-finals (which could not happen this season), and winning the Carabao Cup four times.” They enticed me to come here since here is where they want to be. The club never wanted me to win a championship; instead, they asked me to play as well as I could, to compete with the best teams in England and Europe. This is the explanation. It is the polar opposite of popular belief.
“I’m not claiming success or failure here. People believe that if they do not win the Champions League, this group of players will be failures. That’s alright for me. I completely disagree; we all know how difficult competing in sports is, but I enjoy it. I’m not going to get into a debate over who is right and who is wrong.”
Guardiola also admitted that he has not spoken to his players about their defeat in Madrid, saying that the club’s emphasis will be only on Sunday’s Premier League encounter against Newcastle United.
“We didn’t say anything. No words can express how we all feel. It’s simply a matter of time, so get some rest and think about the next goal. Tomorrow will be our first day together, and we will discuss who we are as a team and what we accomplished in the semi-final. How fantastic we’ve been all season, not just in these two wins, and aim to keep it up in the last few weeks,” the Spaniard remarked.
“It is perhaps one of the moments since I became manager that I am most happy to be a part of this club and organization because we give everything together till the last day we are here.”
“I’m not thinking about the title; instead, I’m focused on Newcastle and Eddie Howe. After that, this is what I’m thinking about. It is not required to consider the worst-case scenario; we achieve our goals.”
Man City now leads the Premier League table by one point over Liverpool, who face top-four contenders Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Saturday night.