Pep Guardiola still has the hunger to improve Manchester City and believes he will ultimately be judged by whether he can deliver the Champions League trophy to the Etihad Stadium.
City hammered Watford 6-0 in a record-equalling FA Cup final victory on Saturday, wrapping up the third major trophy of their season following on from their Premier League and EFL Cup triumphs.
The Champions League remains out of City’s grasp for now, with Guardiola’s side having lost to Tottenham – who will meet Liverpool in an all-Premier League final on June 1 – on away goals in the quarter-finals.
And Guardiola, who also failed to win the Champions League with Bayern Munich and last lifted the trophy with Barcelona in 2011, conceded that ultimately his side’s performance in Europe’s elite club competition with be his measuring stick for success.
“Yes, of course, I wouldn’t be here next season unless I believed we could improve as a group,” Guardiola said when asked if he still had a desire to get better.
“I know it will be difficult because people will compare and people cannot expect us to repeat the treble or four titles in one season, that is something one team does once in their lifetime.
“I said before that I know we will be judged at the end on whether we win the Champions League. I know unless we do that it will not be enough.
“This comes with me. I know that. I arrive in Barcelona, we were lucky we won it two times in four years and the people expect I am something special that we have to win the Champions League and it’s still true.
“In this club, the points record and the domestic competitions is incredible, but the Champions League we don’t win quite often compared to the other ones because the teams are so good, the competition is so demanding but we want to win it.
“But I’m not focused believe me at the start of the season thinking: ‘I have to win one title, two, three or four’, never.
“We will prepare against Liverpool [in the Community Shield], this game and that’s all and we will see how far we arrive.”
50 – Manchester City are the first English top-flight side in history to win 50 matches in a single season in all competitions, six more than they managed in 2017-18. Eclipsed. #MCIWAT #facupfinal pic.twitter.com/3VBqDI6fEd
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) May 18, 2019
One player who will not be taking part in City’s next campaign is Vincent Kompany, who has confirmed that he will be leaving the club to join Anderlecht as player-manager.
Nicolas Otamendi and Fabian Delph are also reportedly on the verge of leaving the club, while Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane have not yet signed new contracts.
And, after re-iterating that City are keen to keep both Sane and Gundogan at the club, Guardiola says he has learned plenty about all of his squad this campaign.
“We offered to extend Sane’s contract and we hope he will stay. What more proof is there – we have been saying for six or seven months we want to keep him,” Guardiola said.
“If he doesn’t want to stay, he doesn’t want to stay. It is the same with Gundogan – he has one year left and we want to extend his contract and we haven’t done that yet.
“People forget they are human beings. Their relationship with each other is incredible. In the bad moments we were seven points behind Liverpool and we did not give up.
“After we lost the Champions League quarter-final we had two days recovery and then played Tottenham and then to Old Trafford, then to Burnley.
“It was never, never, never, never give up. We did not have low moments really because we got 98 points. There is not one player or two players I can single out, in these finals I think of the players who did not play.
“They are incredible – I think about Phil Foden, he helped us win the cup, or Otamendi, they were an incredible part of our success. I feel sorry for them. When you achieve the treble or four tiles it is not one player, it is everybody. Everyone was incredible and they were involved. That is why we did what we did.”
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