Ilkay Gundogan has echoed his manager’s call for Manchester City fans to end their feud with UEFA and back the club in the Champions League.
Only 32,000 City supporters attended Gundogan’s debut for the club – a 4-0 thumping of Borussia Monchengladbach on Wednesday – and Pep Guardiola told fans to forget their gripes with UEFA and get behind his team.
UEFA punished the club under Financial Fair Play rules in 2014, and City fans were angered further when CSKA Moscow supporters were allowed to attend a match that was supposed to be played behind closed doors as a sanction for racist behaviour at the Russian club’s previous matches.
Plans to alter the way coefficient points are distributed could lead to the dispute deepening, but City’s £21million midfielder called upon supporters to be the team’s extra man in Europe.
“I agree with the manager,” the 25-year-old told The Mirror. “The Champions League is one of the biggest club stages you can reach and I think for players it is an honour to be part of it. It certainly is for me.
“You just enjoy being a part of it playing against the best clubs in Europe. And all the supporters who come along should enjoy it, too. They can always be the extra man.
“Of course, in the end it is all about what happens on the pitch, but it helps to have all the fans behind you. I am sure it will be different when Barcelona come to Manchester.”
A 4-0 win over Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday ensured Gundogan’s first two games for City ended with emphatic, identical scorelines, and the Germany international paid tribute to Guardiola following his successful start to life in England.
“Pep’s arrival at City was the biggest factor in me coming here,” said Gundogan. “Every player wants to works with him. If you ask any player, they would be happy to do so even if it was just for a few months.
“Just to try to learn every day from him is a privilege and an honour. Manchester City are the most exciting project in football. Everything is developing here and we want to be successful in the Premier League and also in Europe.”