Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola hopes Tuesday’s 3-1 Champions League win over Barcelona can act as an inspiration to future generations at the club.
City battled back from a Lionel Messi opener in style at the Etihad Stadium, with Ilkay Gundogan netting either side of a Kevin De Bruyne free-kick to secure a victory that closes them to within two points of the LaLiga champions at the top of Group C.
But Guardiola hopes there can be wider significance to victory over his former employers, who boast a European pedigree City cannot match having failed to compete on the continent at all between 1979 and 2003.
For the Premier League leaders, who ended 44 years without a domestic league title in 2012 to return to Europe’s top competition, Guardiola believes triumphs such as the one recorded on Tuesday are important if his players are to gain the believe they can operate on a level footing with the established heavyweights.
“When one club like Manchester City is 25 years without being in Europe, you don’t have history,” the 45-year-old told a post-match news conference.
“History means when you face the big teams you are [only] a little bit confident to fight against them, face to face against them.
“We don’t play against Barcelona; we play against us, against our tradition and what we have to do. In the first half there was no chance for us. Football is like this – now we are so happy.
“If you talk about our performance in the first 30 minutes and 0-1, we are not able to compete against the best teams in the world.
“This club was 25 to 30 years out of Europe. It is a long time while Barcelona, Real Madrid Bayern were playing every year. They were at home.
“We need time, the people don’t give us time but the club give us time. It’s a good step to say once in our lives we played against the best team and we competed against them.”
Nevertheless, Guardiola is adamant his current crop can be trailblazers, having reached the semi-finals last season but seldom played with such verve in the Champions League.
“For the future generations they are going to realise ‘wow these guys are able to beat the best team and we have to do it again’,” he added.
“It is the same when the group of Joe Hart, Vincent Kompany won the Premier League two times, so the players who come now know understand they have to try to do that.
“It’s not like this, where [owner] Sheikh Mansour and the chairman Khaldoon [Al Mubarak] say ‘now we are going to create one of the best teams in Europe’.
“You need 10 years, 15, 20 to stay there. We are going to reduce that time to leave nights for the Manchester City fans like today.”