Pep Guardiola needs no introduction in modern football. Since his emergence as a coach from boyhood club Barcelona to Bayern Munich and his current spell at Manchester City, his trophy tally of 27 speaks well enough for the Spaniard and sets him a standard not many coaches can relate to.
Added to that, his tactical approach to the game and his trademark “tiki-taka” which he takes wherever he goes has made any of his teams a joy to watch over the years.
Prior to Guardiola’s appointment in the summer of 2016, the Citizens made it obvious that they were planning on becoming serious contenders not just domestically but in the whole of Europe as well. It’s important to note that his predecessor Manuel Pellegrini had already won the League and the League Cup in his three-year spell in England.
His debut season gave him somewhat of a reality check and a welcome introduction to what the Premier League was all about. A strong start to the season which saw City win their first ten games in a row was followed shortly by a string of draws and defeats in a season which they ultimately finished 4th and without a title.
Fast track two years later, Pep Guardiola has won two league titles, two Carabao cup titles, one FA Cup win capped a record-breaking 100 goals tally in his pocket as well.
Only three managers have won the Premier League in back-to-back seasons:
🏴 Alex Ferguson
🇵🇹 Jose Mourinho
🇪🇸 Pep Guardiola
Three of the competition’s finest. pic.twitter.com/kzX4P6zzLi
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) May 12, 2019
His unprecedented domestic treble triumph last year (which no coach had ever done) would have been the holy grail of seasons had he won the Champions League trophy.
With that in mind, a cloud of debate has come up in recent times on whether the Spaniard has actually had a “successful” time at City. The fact that a lot of money had been invested over the run of years didn’t help the narrative.
Money spent since Pep Guardiola took charge of Man City:
Man City: £527m
Spurs: £180m#UCL semi-finals since Pep Guardiola took charge of Man City:
Man City: 0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 17, 2019
For the much-lauded Catalan coach, though, he has suffered a recurring pattern of Champions League anguish since he won the title for a second time with his great Barcelona team in 2011.
Guardiola’s Barcelona reign ended in the semi-final defeat to Chelsea in 2012 and there were last four exits in each of his three seasons at Bayern Munich.
The upturn in City’s standards since he arrived in 2016 is unquestionable, and even an unprecedented treble of Premier League, FA Cup and League Cup still leaves a feeling of disappointment. Guardiola is left with the outstanding question once again. How long will he have to wait for European glory?
It’s well known that it is for Champions League success that Guardiola was pursued so long by City, and in three attempts he has failed to even reach the semi-finals.
Domestic success in recent times had been commonplace for Manchester City as they had already won two titles in five years prior to Guardiola’s arrival. You get the feeling that he was signed because of the Champions League, the one which has eluded them.
In the Champions League, City have been guilty of playing a less attacking style and sometimes switch to a midfield double pivot which affects their play.
There is no doubt Manchester City are one of the top five best teams in Europe at the moment but there is this air of déjà vu about his current spell owing to the fact that at Bayern he was dominant domestically but always lost out in Europe.
Also, the fact that he’s been knocked out by Liverpool, Tottenham and even Monaco on one occasion is in all reality hard to forgive.
It is hard not to imagine that even with all the success Man City had last year, they wouldn’t have been haunted by the fact that they couldn’t qualify for the Champions League final.
Last season, in particular, Guardiola came inches close to breaking his quarter-final jinx and one has to feel sympathy about the way his side crashed out. Except of course you’re a Tottenham fan or your initials read “VAR”.
It is probably an issue weighing heavily on Pep’s mind and even though he has openly showed that it doesn’t bother him, a serial winner like Guardiola would be desperate to get his hands on that trophy which has eluded him for nine years.
Furthermore, the Spaniard himself once openly admitted that he will be ultimately judged based on his Champions League achievements and with two years left on his contract he is running out of time to get familiar with European glory once again.
With a total spending power of more than 400m invested in his City side over the years, it is not out of place to expect Guardiola to have won the Champions League at least once.
However, his domestic achievements can not be ignored and as it stands he is already the most successful manager in City’s history.
He has improved the City side significantly both in terms of team success and individual developments as well. Raheem Sterling, in particular, has blossomed and seen himself rise to become arguably one of the best players in the league under the Spaniard. Pep’s time has ultimately still been successful but a Champions League trophy will put the icing on the cake.