Pep Guardiola has defended his players’ character but has been questioned as to whether he is “talented enough” to lead Manchester City to a Champions League title.
After Wednesday’s dramatic late collapse against Real Madrid, City manager Pep Guardiola claimed that he has yet to talk to his players because “no words” could help ease the pain of missing out on the Champions League final.
Guardiola, who will address his squad on Saturday before Sunday’s crucial visit from Newcastle, claims he is still “hungry” for victory and believes another bitter European failure will help his team next season.
But City manager Pep Guardiola, whose side blew a 5-3 aggregate lead against Real with six minutes to go, questioned himself after failing to win the Champions League for the sixth consecutive season with the club, admitting he wasn’t sure if they’d ever win it under his watch.
He stated, “We want to do it.” “Perhaps I’m not up to the task of assisting the squad. Nobody knows what would have happened if different players or management had been involved.”
When asked if he thought his team, who finished second to Chelsea last season, was capable of winning the European Cup, Guardiola replied, “I don’t know.” It is a question I am unable to answer. Before Madrid, I had no idea. You may ask me questions, but I may not have the answers to all of them. Football is an extremely unpredictable sport. We noticed it.
“I understand that some people do not appreciate what this club is doing – perhaps it is not enough – but for me, being in the Champions League semi-finals after [reaching the final] last season and taking efforts to be it is very extraordinary.” We’ll try again next season, knowing how difficult it is.
“Some feel this collection of players will be failures if they do not win the Champions League. I accept it, yet I disagree fully. I’m not going to get into a debate about who is correct or incorrect. As a club, I believe we should begin and try to achieve our goals.”
Guardiola claimed City’s Abu Dhabi owners had not told him that winning the Champions League was a priority. Despite their recent rapid implosion in Europe, when two goals from Rodrygo and one from Karim Benzema in the space of 11 minutes cost them dearly, he maintained his players’ attitude and mentality.
“There’s no time for mental [collapse], [Rodrygo’s second goal] occurred 45 seconds later – there’s no time to fall down,” he explained. “Now some think it’s a character flaw. Character flaws? What if Jack Grealish scores both of those goals? What exactly is character?
“Now it’s character because [Angel] Correa fired and Ederson saved in the quarter-final against Atlético Madrid? Is it not character if Correa scores? Is it not in character for the team for [Thibaut] Courtois to put his foot here and divert [Grealish’s shot] for a corner and away from the goal?
“I’m always hungry [for achievement].” However, what we experienced in Madrid will benefit us as a club and as a team in the future. People don’t realize it anymore, but it’s beneficial to us. “The worst thing is not to have these experiences.”
Guardiola admitted that City must respond swiftly against Newcastle if they are to fight off Liverpool’s title challenge. He stated, “We recover.” “We are better now than yesterday, and we will be better tomorrow.” Accept that it is football, and we have a significant struggle over the next two weeks – particularly this week – with the Premier League season on the line.
“We didn’t communicate with the players.” No words can express how we all feel. It’s simply a matter of time, so get some rest and think about the next goal. [Saturday] will be our first day together, and we’ll discuss who we are as a team and what we accomplished in the semi-final.”