Manchester City cannot be considered to be a club of equal stature to Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, but Pep Guardiola feels they are making steps in the right direction.
Since being taken over by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, City have established themselves as one of the leading forces in the Premier League, winning the title on three occasions.
For the past three seasons they have been managed by one of the greatest coaches in the modern era in Guardiola.
The Catalan led Barca to the treble in 2008-09 and instilled a brand of football that won admirers across the world, including at Bayern, where he won three Bundesliga titles in as many seasons before heading to City.
Guardiola believes sustained success is needed for City to enter the same bracket as Europe’s premier clubs and he is confident they are on the right path.
“The last decade, one of the teams to have grown the most is Manchester City. Not just in our period [together], but over the last decade,” he said.
“To compare with Barca, we are far away in terms of history and legacy. We are far because we are one decade. But what we do is getting better and better.
“My humble opinion is we are making small, small steps and every time getting better. We made back-to-back [EFL Cup] titles, we won 100 points, we are fighting for all the titles.
“In the next years still being there, those are the best steps. [When you] compare with Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, they have an incredible history of results. We are not there.
“The best way [to describe it] is that we feel far, far away from these clubs. That’s the best way. At Barcelona and Munich I didn’t go to work thinking about a legacy, it just happens.
“If we’ll be remembered we’ll see. We’ll have to win more and more through the years. They are a step forward in many terms.”
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City are in pole position to become the first team to win successive Premier League titles since Manchester United in 2008-09, sitting one point clear of Liverpool at the summit with nine games remaining.
Jurgen Klopp’s side were seven points ahead in January but drawing four of their past six games has seen a significant shift in the balance.
Guardiola does not feel suggestions Liverpool have buckled under the pressure take away from City’s exploits and his point of view was similar with regards to the investigations into his club opened by UEFA and the Premier League, following allegations published by Der Spiegel.
A series of articles from the German publication, which drew upon documents purportedly obtained by whistleblowers Football Leaks, included claims of impropriety with regards to circumventing UEFA’s Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules, youth player recruitment and third-party ownership. City insist accusations of financial irregularities are “entirely false”.
“I don’t know what happens there [at Liverpool]. When you are fighting, people want to underestimate what you achieve,” Guardiola said.
“I’m not too concerned or worried about what people say if we win the title and, just because of what is happening now with UEFA, they do not give us credit for what we have done. Believe me, I don’t care. Absolutely zero.
“I know exactly what the guys are doing for the last two seasons and more and that is what remains, my feelings.
“If we have made mistakes we will be punished – it is what it is, on and off the pitch – but I’m pretty sure what we have done is incredible. Incredible.
“I don’t know whether it is important for the rest of the people but it is important for ourselves. When we did it [win] it belongs to us and nobody is going to change that.”
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