Pep Guardiola admits his first season at Manchester City could be a failure

City travel to Middlesbrough for an FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday, four days before a pivotal Champions League last-16 trip to Monaco

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Pep Guardiola has invited the press to judge his first year at Manchester City in whichever way they want ahead of what he admits will be a season-defining week.

City travel to Middlesbrough for an FA Cup quarter-final on Saturday, four days before their pivotal Champions League last-16 trip to Monaco.

Defeat in both ties would mean no cup success in his debut season, while Liverpool could extinguish any lingering hopes of winning the Premier League title when they visit the Etihad on the following Sunday.

He knows that, too. “These three games will decide what’s going to happen in the next two months, definitely,” Guardiola told a room of reporters on Friday.

Having arrived amid such great expectations, the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager is fully aware that a trophyless season would be viewed as a failure, yet he remains relaxed.


“I give you my permission to analyse what is my success this season,” he said. “I’m not the guy to say it was good or bad.

“I know what my standard is in terms of the past and titles. I know what’s on my shoulders and I have to handle that, but what I would like to see in my team is them playing better at the end of the season than at the beginning.

“My period in Munich was judged as a disaster because we were not able to win the Champions League,” he added. “But when I was at Munich, we won three leagues in a row, we won two cups, we arrived all the time in the semi-finals, but it was a disaster. So I have to handle that.

“That’s why I’m open and it’s your job to analyse what I have done. What I can say is we are trying to play better.”

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Sergio Aguero, the Manchester City striker, walks off the pitch after Wednesday's draw with Stoke (Getty)

At the Riverside, Guardiola's charges will have to play much better than they did on Wednesday night. While the dynasty he built in Barcelona wowed audiences the world over, his current 'project' played out a stalemate against Stoke City.

It was the sort of fixture that Guardiola's critics have often said would stifle his style, the one he so stubbornly sticks to. But while he can be dogmatic, he always bears the importance of winning in mind, and believes that his methods will eventually bear fruit.

My period in Munich was judged as a disaster because we were not able to win the Champions League... So I have to handle that.
Pep Guardiola

“Being a manager depends on results but I always believe deep in my heart that results depend on the way you play,” he said. “That’s why I need to be convinced that we’re playing better every day.

“Against Stoke, we had an idea of what was going to happen. It didn’t work so we have to work on that to make it better in the next game.

“That is why I am a manager, to have a plan for every game it depends on the opponent, the quality of my players. When this happens, I am happy at home.”

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