Pep Guardiola can say what he likes… but he must win the Champions League with Man City, says Rio Ferdinand

Posted Friday, August 14, 2020 by

RIO FERDINAND almost choked on his ice cream as Pep Guardiola tried to convince the hundreds and thousands.

Manchester City boss Pep insisted this week he would not be a failure if he did not deliver the Champions League trophy to the Etihad.

Pep Guardiola can say what he likes… but he must win the Champions League with Man City, says Rio Ferdinand
Whatever he claims, manager Pep Guardiola will be defined at Man City by whether or not he helps them win the Champions League Credit: Getty Images - Getty

The Spaniard claimed the friendships he has formed in the UK, as well as the six domestic honours he has guided the club to since his appointment as manager in 2016, would more than compensate for missing out on the prize he was brought into win.

And while former Champions League-winning captain Rio is still able to scoff down a Mr Whippy with the best of them, he could not swallow Guardiola’s comments.

Ferdinand, who skippered Manchester United to Europe’s biggest honour in 2008, said: “Listen, with the competitive spirit Guardiola has, the perfectionist he seems to be and the obsessive nature he has, he would not be happy if he walked away from City without winning the Champions League.

“He was probably more successful at Bayern Munich than he has been at City but the fact he didn’t win the Champions League in Germany will always taint his time there.

“That is due to the level he has operated at in the past and the standards he set himself at Barcelona.

“I think it would be the same if this was to happen again at City.

“He has been brought in by their owners specifically to win the Champions League, whether he likes it or not.

“They were winning the Premier League before he arrived.

“So he hasn’t so far achieved anything at City that nobody else has.

“He can say what he wants about not being judged on the Champions League because he has to protect himself — but he has been brought in to win this tournament.

“I’m not saying he would be unsuccessful if he doesn’t manage to win it. But he would not have done what was on the tin.”

City take on Lyon in their Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon tomorrow night.

Guardiola, 49, guided Barcelona to the trophy twice during his four years in charge at the Nou Camp.

But he was unable to boss Bayern to the top Euro crown, despite three Bundesliga titles.

Pep has led City to back-to-back Premier League triumphs but the Champions League has so far eluded them and him.

They are massive favourites to reach the semi-finals but Lyon took four points off them in the group stage during the 2018-19 campaign.

Rio said: “That will still be in the back of City’s players’ minds.

“So they’ll need to come out of the blocks quickly to erase those memories, because there can be hangovers if you don’t start well.

“What I like about this Lyon team is they set up mainly three at the back and they can defend really well.

“But they don’t show people too much respect and they could be a banana skin for City.

“There is no way they are going to come out, look at City and all the players they have and sit back.

“They’ll be remembering they took four points off them last season as well, and they will know City are not unbeatable.

“This is a difficult tie for Guardiola. I am sure he would have picked a number of other teams to play ahead of Lyon.

"All the pressure is on City because they are massive favourites. But they are used to it.

“They’ve probably won 85 per cent of domestic trophies in the last five years.

“They have been tremendous in that respect, so being favourites will not be an issue for them, I am sure.”

But Ferdinand, 41, believes City have to make changes to their game if they are to transfer their domestic superiority into Europe.

He added: “You have to play differently in the Champions League to the way you do in the Premier League.

“It’s very different. You’re playing against different players and better players more often than not, because it’s the elite tournament. So you have to adapt your game.

“For many years at United we were going into Champions League games gung-ho and still playing attacking, free-flowing football as if we were in the Premier League.

“But if you look at the years we were successful in Europe, in the big games we were stiff and hard to play against."


Ferdinand continued: “We knew we had players who could hurt teams on the attack in Cristiano Ronaldo, Carlos Tevez, Wayne Rooney, Nani, Louis Saha and Dimitar Berbatov.

"But we had to be solid first and that was a very different approach to when we’d play teams in the Premier League.

“It’s about being adaptable and respecting the tournament.

“City sometimes have been their own worst enemy in Europe.

“There have been times when they’ve had games by scruff of the neck and they’ve stuck to their guns and played to their principles — instead of saying ‘Right, let’s shut the tie down and keep what we’ve got’ — and they’ve been punished.

“With the ties just one game this time, game management is even more important this time.

“The format means the Champions League will be almost like the FA Cup and we know the shocks that can happen when it’s just one game. Anyone can beat anyone.

“Whereas over two legs you would have fancied the bigger, stronger clubs with deep squads, one-legged ties make it a bit of a leveller.”



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