Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits if he was managing a big club he would have been sacked by now

City could yet finish as low as fifth this season and Guardiola has acknowledged that if results do not improve next year he is likely to lose his job

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The Independent Football

Pep Guardiola has claimed that if he was managing a “big club” this season then he would already have lost his job, as his Manchester City side attempt to cling onto their spot in the top four of the Premier League with two matches remaining.

Guardiola won the league title in both of his debut campaigns at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, and his near-flawless managerial record meant that City were widely considered one of the favourites to win the Premier League this season, when the Spaniard agreed to succeed Manuel Pellegrini in Manchester.

But City have suffered from an inconsistent campaign and struggled to keep up with the pace set by league winners Chelsea and runners-up Tottenham Hotspur. Guardiola’s side could yet finish third, although a failure to win both of their remaining matches could also see them fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2010.

And, speaking ahead of a crucial home match against West Brom, Guardiola has admitted that his shortcomings this season would likely have seen him sacked were he managing a bigger club than Manchester City.

“In my situation at a big club: I’m sacked. I’m out. Sure. Definitely,” he said when asked if he felt his job was under pressure after a season of relative underachievement.

“At clubs like Barcelona or Bayern Munich if you do not win you are really out – there you have to win by far. If not, they do not give you a second chance. Here, they have given me a second chance and we will try to do it, and we will try to do better than this season.

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The Spaniard has frequently cut a frustrated figure on the touchline (Getty)

“One team was better – Chelsea – so congratulations to them as they deserve by far to win the league. And the second team – Tottenham – played outstanding football again [on Sunday], so the way they play… chapeau. The others we are there, in this moment it’s in our hands to finish third but we are there.”

Regardless of the outcome of City's final two matches, this season’s finish will be the lowest in Guardiola’s fêted managerial career.

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In eight seasons in football management, Guardiola has only failed to win the title once (Getty)

The 46-year-old has failed to win the league title only once before in his career – in the 2011/12 season when his Barcelona side finished second in La Liga behind Real Madrid – and before he joined City he won three consecutive Bundesliga titles with Bayern Munich.

This season also saw Guardiola fail to reach the last four of the Champions League for the first time in seven seasons.

Guardiola claimed in his media conference that he felt so many years of success in Spain and Germany meant there was always likely to be an extraordinary amount of pressure placed upon his shoulders in England. He then added that he would understand if the City board decided to sack him next season if results did not improve. 

“If what happens next season is not going well, I will have one more year of my contract and if it is not going well they are going to change manager,” he said. “So what is the pressure? Last season, this season and next season: all the managers in the first five or six clubs feel that pressure.

“I have said many times that I have this expectation [placed upon me] because of what I have done in the past. I came here to try to win this year, but it was not possible. But I will try with the club, with the players, with the staff, with the chairman and with the sporting director to do it.

“And after that if the results are not [good], if we are judged just for the results then we will be sacked and another one is coming here. And you will be here again with the new manager, and you will make the same questions, so that is what it is.”

Pep Guardiola: You can't play for just 45 minutes at this level

Guardiola has not been helped in his attempts to win the Premier League title this season by an ageing squad and particularly leaky defence. Although City have thrilled up-front – with Raheem Sterling as well as new-signings Gabriel Jesus and Leroy Sané all impressing – they have struggled at the back, conceding 9 more goals than eventual champions Chelsea.

However, the manager refused to blame his players for the shortcomings of his team and instead suggested that he was initially under-prepared for just how physical English football would prove.

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City's brittle defence has frequently frustrated (Getty)

“No, no, no – I think the standard of players has been good,” he replied when asked if his players were guilty of not being up to scratch this season. “We make a good performance and we played quite well most of the time, but we were not clinical and we were not as solid as we expect, as maybe you need to be here.

“Here a lot of things happen, especially in the boxes. Everything is here and there and here and there. In other countries the process is calmer but here sometimes you cannot control it; you try to control it but you cannot. And there you have to be strong, that’s true.

“The process is important but when you go to Crystal Palace, Burnley or West Brom it is impossible not to feel what will be there. Against [Salomón] Rondón and against [Christian] Benteke – against these kind of players. And those kind of [long] balls, when they arrive and there is contact, all around the world it’s a foul, and here it’s not.

“That’s why you have to be strong, because you are not going to change the referee. It is impossible because all through history they have played this way, all the philosophy is in that way, and you have to try to be more stronger. Before I expected we could solve it, but then I realised we have to be strong there and strong when we arrive in the box.”

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