MANCHESTER, UNITED KINGDOM, May 5, 2021 (AFP) – The current Manchester United owners have waited 13 years. For Josep Guardiola, it was ten years to finally reach the Champions League decision.
When he took over the presidency of the English club in 2008, Mansour bin Zayed Al Nayan dreamed of taking this team, which was used to a secondary role, to the summit of European and global football.
Manchester City had not reached the final of the biggest European championship, so they signed Guardiola, who took charge in 2016, backed by the two Champions League titles they won as coach of Barcelona (2009 and 2011).
These were also the last victories in the biggest club competition in the world for the Spanish coach, who was unable to return to the decision at the end of his contract with Barcelona (2012), nor with Bayern Munich (2013-2016) and even then with Manchester City.
“People think it is easy to reach the Champions League final,” the coach said. “But reaching the final really confirms what we have done in the last four or five years.”
To stay with “Orelhuda”, the Champions League trophy, City still had an obstacle to overcome, by beating Chelsea in the final match in Istanbul, on May 29th.
“It’s not all about money” – Before the Champions League decision, Manchester City will meet Chelsea on Saturday, in the Premier League. If you win, London will be the champion up front, thus ensuring complete peace of mind for contemplating the Continental Final.
In this season of the continental competition, City are still undefeated, with 11 wins and draws, and have mainly relied on very strong defense.
Riyad Mahrez scored, on Tuesday, against Paris Saint-Germain, the two goals of the victory, after the French net swinging in the first leg.
Now, all the investments made by the club’s owners seem to be paying off.
“It’s not just about money. If you think about it, you are wrong,” Guardiola said on Tuesday.
“The ranking against a maximum team over Barcelona and Bayern Munich says a lot about us and we will celebrate,” the coach said.
Paris Saint-Germain, the runners-up of the Champions League, had big ambitions in this edition after Barcelona were eliminated in the round of 16 and Bayern Munich – the hangman in the 2020 final – in the quarter-finals. But Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Angel Di Maria and the rest of Mauricio Pochettino’s stars will have to wait for a better opportunity.
On Wednesday, Guardiola was praised by the specialist newspapers, stating that he is the true leader and engineer of the success of Manchester City, who won Paris Saint-Germain in the two semi-finals.
“The result of the city is a monument built by Guardiola,” the BBC said. For the Guardian, the Catalan coach must feel that he is “an artist of the Renaissance, spoiled in his golden palace, who simply asks to show his inspiration.”
hap / jed / jld / dr / lca