Pep Guardiola insists he will not gamble Manchester City’s domestic dominance to go all in for Champions League glory.
City became the first team for a decade to win back-to-back Premier League titles last season before going on to complete an unprecedented domestic treble.
However, as was the case during his time at Bayern Munich, two-time Champions League winner Guardiola found Europe’s top competition to prove elusive once more as eventual runners-up Tottenham prevailed against City on away goals in a thrilling quarter-final.
On the eve of beginning his fourth season as City boss with a Community Shield showdown against Liverpool, the Champions League looms even larger as the one major prize left to win, but Guardiola feels the consistency that has returned top-flight points hauls of 100 and 98 in consecutive seasons is too valuable to sacrifice.
“The Champions League is an important tournament, difficult to win,” he said. “But I don’t want to go to the casino and gamble everything I have in my pocket for seven games [the Champions League knockout stages]. I don’t want it.
“I think I want to be happy during 11 months. It makes me happy, the Premier League, every game in the cups. When I win, the days after I am happier. I go to the restaurants better, I feel better, I work better with my players. That’s what it gives me.
“Am I going to wait until February to play seven games with everything on black colour? From my point of view, it’s too risky.
“Normally, when you have history behind it helps a lot. We are trying to build it and I think in Europe we will be closer when we win more Premier Leagues and Premier Leagues and Premier Leagues.
“I would sign right now to do what we did last season again. Right now. Not winning the Champions League and four titles [including the Community Shield] again in this season.”
Oh, and Bernardo slaps himself in the face
— Manchester City (@ManCity) August 3, 2019
City’s status as a relatively newcomer among Europe’s elite was a factor Guardiola also touched upon when discussing the absence of his players from this week’s FIFA Best Awards shortlist.
“It is because Manchester City is in this position the last decade. We are new in these situations,” he said.
“I cannot imagine Real Madrid and Barcelona winning four titles and not one single player being there [on the shortlist].
“I don’t think there is one player who made a better season than Bernardo Silva last season, even winning [The Nations League] with Portugal.
“This club, for example, in eight years won four Premier Leagues. It is quite remarkable. And never in these four seasons was one of our players nominated the best in the league. Never
“Huge respect for Mohamed Salah [who won the PFA and FWA awards in 2017-18], but Kevin De Bruyne that season, guys, when we made 100 points was above and beyond the normal situations.”
That description could be applied to both City and Liverpool collectively last time around, as they amassed a combined 195 Premier League points.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) August 2, 2019
Liverpool overcame the disappointment of City pipping them to the title by winning the Champions League.
Guardiola phoned Jurgen Klopp to pass on his congratulations after they beat Spurs 2-0 in Madrid and dismissed the suggestion that the Reds’ exploits had taken the shine off his own team’s achievements.
“Why can we not share the glory?” he asked ahead of the latest chapter in a burgeoning sporting rivalry. “We would like to win the Champions League – big respect to Liverpool. Winning the Champions League is so difficult, so, so complicated.
“That’s why winning the Champions League gets all credit. But why is it higher than what we have done over 11 months?
“I’m pretty sure Liverpool would have liked to win the last Premier League after 30 years not winning the Premier League.
“Both teams were fantastic last season. Why do you have to say this team is better than the other one? Both were good.”
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