“I didn’t come to Manchester City to win the Champions League”.
These were the words of Pep Guardiola prior to the quarter-final tie against Tottenham, in which they narrowly crashed out on away goals and at the cruel hands of a stoppage-time VAR decision.
However, the Spaniard has never really set the tone for his side in this competition, his words above being a key example of that.
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If he didn’t come to City to win the Champions League, what did he arrive to do?
Both of his predecessors in Roberto Mancini and Manuel Pellegrini managed to win the Premier League; the former managed to pick up an FA Cup as well, whilst Pellegrini had two League Cup successes under his belt, the same total as Guardiola.
If he is simply matching the domestic achievements of the club’s managers from years gone by, what more is he bringing to the table?
European success in the near future is vital for the club’s growth, make no mistake about it.
You could see the sheer explosion of emotion when Guardiola watched what he though was a 93rd-minute Raheem Sterling winner bounce in off Hugo Lloris on Wednesday. The former Barcelona boss sprinted down the touchline, jumping for joy as if an extremely weighty monkey had been prised from his back.
Guardiola knows he needs this personally just as much as City need it. He has never won the Champions League without Lionel Messi in his squad, hasn’t made the final since 2011, hasn’t made it further than David Moyes has in Europe since arriving in England, despite spending £527m.
Contrastingly, his look of horror as VAR chalked the goal off for offside was there for all to see. He looked pale. He looked shell-shocked. He knows that he needs this, that European success is the next step for this dominant City side as well as for his own reputation.
Of course, it goes without saying that Guardiola is undoubtedly a far better manager than Mancini or Pellegrini, but it is a results business at the end of the day.
When he eventually leaves City, people will judge him on the trophies that he helped bring to the club – if all that remains are a few League and FA Cups and the odd Premier League title, is that enough to distinguish him from a good manager to a great one?