Manchester City stand on the verge of history with a Premier League and FA Cup double already won, and a meeting with Inter Milan in the Champions League final just one week away. Manager Pep Guardiola says his players recognize that they have a rare opportunity, perhaps one which they will never have again, to join Manchester United as English football’s only treble winners.
Pep Guardiola is desperate to win the Champions League again.
Manchester City added the FA Cup to the Premier League title they had already won by beating Manchester United at Wembley on Saturday afternoon, and they have now switched their focus to the Champions League.
Guardiola, a two-time Champions League winner as Barcelona manager, believes that City have been on a multi-year journey that he wants to see culminate in Istanbul next Saturday.
After the victory over United, Guardiola explained: “More than the fact for the treble is the fact to win the Champions League. We won already the FA Cup, we won the Premier League. It is the same. For me, I would say it is incredibly remarkable in three years we have had two finals and one semi-final of the Champions League. That is incredible but in the end we have to win it. I know how it works.”
City reached the Champions League final two years ago, but were beaten by Chelsea. 12 months ago, Pep’s rampant side were stunned by a historic Real Madrid comeback in the semi-finals. Madrid went on to win the title as they so often do, while Guardiola was left to reflect on his eleven-year drought in the competition.
After beating Manchester United in the finals of 2009 and 2011, Guardiola has routinely fallen in the latter stages of the competition. His struggles reflect those of City, a club with a longstanding desire to lift Europe’s most coveted trophy.
Since arriving in English football in 2016, Guardiola’s City teams have often been considered Europe’s strongest but have been unable to take the final step.
At Wembley, he continued: “Everybody knows it. We have done incredible seasons – five Premier Leagues, two FA Cups, Carabao Cups, but we have to win the Champions League to be recognized like the team deserves to be recognized. We have to admit it, without the Champions League – it has been amazing, it has been fun – but we are missing (something). We have to do it.”
Guardiola’s Barcelona team are universally viewed as one of the greatest teams in European history. For City to claim a similar place in the European pantheon, they need a European title and Pep knows it.
He continued: “We give more and more credit for what we have done these years, we have done many things, but I said to the players ‘you have to put the pressure on yourself, to be recognized as something good you have to win Europe’.”
The City squad also know that they have the chance to do something truly historic. Manchester United in 1999 are the only English team to have won a treble, and City could take their place alongside that iconic team if they can beat Inter Milan next weekend.
Pep spoke about his players’ perspective, too. He said: “They know what we have ahead of us. Everyone says ‘one more to go, one more to go’. They feel we are in a position we will probably never be in again, and after we have three or four training sessions, to prepare for Inter Milan. I have two days to watch them. Then we go there to try.”