LONDON (Agencies): Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says his time at the club will ‘not be complete’ if they fail to win the Champions League.
Guardiola extended his contract with City to 2025 while the Premier League season was breaking for the World Cup. City have won nine major trophies since he became coach in 2016 but they are yet to win any European silverware.
They came closest to winning the Champions League in 2021, but were beaten by Chelsea in the final. Aside from the final defeat in Portugal, they were beaten by Real Madrid in last season’s semi-final, have exited at the quarter-final stage three times and started Guardiola’s tenure with a last-16 defeat by Monaco.
“It’s not the only one but I admit it’s the trophy we want and my period here will not be complete if we don’t win it,” said Guardiola. “I will do everything in the time we have together but I’d say the same before. It’s the trophy we don’t have and we’ll try to do it. I have the feeling they’ll get it sooner or later.”
City have been drawn against German side RB Leipzig in the last-16 of this season’s competition.
This season, City are aiming to become only the fifth club to win the English title in three successive seasons and on Thursday they host Liverpool in the fourth round of the EFL Cup.
Guardiola has won that trophy on four occasions, putting him level with Brian Clough, Sir Alex Ferguson and Jose Mourinho as the most successful manager in the competition’s history.
However, City are hampered because they had 16 players at the World Cup.
Nathan Ake, Manuel Akanji and Spain duo Rodri and Aymeric Laporte returned to training at the start of this week and will join Kevin de Bruyne, Ilkay Gundogan, Erling Haaland and Riyad Mahrez as senior players available to face the Reds.
“Step by step they come back,” said Guardiola. “We are happy they are back.
“I have the feeling those who were at the World Cup are in better condition than players who weren’t because the players who didn’t go lack the rhythm.”
Guardiola praised 22-year-old striker Julian Alvarez, who was one of Argentina’s standout stars during the country’s World Cup triumph in Qatar this month. He also commended Lionel Messi, with whom he enjoyed great success at Barcelona, and former City defender Nicolas Otamendi.
“We’re delighted for Julian, he played a lot, his contribution was amazing for the team,” said the City boss. “We have a world champion in our team. We are incredibly happy for him. Congratulations to him and Otamendi, and personally to Messi. To Argentina, well deserved.”
‘Support your team’
Manchester City and Liverpool’s respective chief executives Ferran Soriano and Billy Hogan have written to both sets of supporters before the tie calling for calm after a series of clashes around matches between the clubs in recent seasons.
At Anfield in October, City had the windscreen on their team coach smashed, while their fans sang about the tragedies that have affected Liverpool so badly.
And Guardiola reiterated that message, saying he wants supporters to focus on the game. “Be supporters and support your team unconditionally,” he said. “With the quality players on both sides, enjoy the game.”