Guardiola unconcerned by lack of Champions League success

AFP , Friday 30 Aug 2019

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola before the English Premier League soccer match between Bournemouth and Manchester City at the Vitality Stadium, Bournemouth, England, Sunday Aug. 25, 2019 AP

Pep Guardiola says he will not judge himself too harshly if his spell as Manchester City manager ends without winning the Champions League.

The draw for this year's competition this week appeared to offer City a favourable route into the knock-out stages, pairing them with Ukraine's Shakhtar Donetsk, Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb and Italian side Atalanta.

After Guardiola led City to every domestic trophy last season, there appears more pressure than ever on the highly-decorated coach to land the European crown for his wealthy owners.

But Guardiola insists the prospect of failure in the tournament for a fourth successive season does not concern him, despite a record of two quarter-final appearances and one in the last 16 while at the Etihad.

"It's important, I know it's important and if it happens it will be important," he said.

"But I will be the same guy, I'll wake up in the morning, work a lot, go to sleep as early as possible, eat good, take care of myself as best as possible and love the people I love.

"I’m going to do my best but it's not going to change my life.

"When I say thank you to everybody for my time here it's not going to change my opinion about this title or that title.

"We are happy with what we've done so far, we came here to play the way we want to play.

"If we're good enough we'll fight until the end, if not we're going to try next season."

Guardiola's star players endured mixed fortunes on the international front this week, with right-back Kyle Walker being left out of the England squad by Gareth Southgate.

However, City centre-half Aymeric Laporte was called up by the French national team -- the first time in the three years he has been in their squad -- for the upcoming games with Albania and Andorra.

"I was a little bit surprised at first," said Guardiola of Walker’s omission. "But I'm not involved.

"We'll respect the decision. Kyle is coming back stronger. I understand him and support Gareth.

"For me Aymeric is the best left-sided centre defender in Europe.

"I'm incredibly grateful to Didier Deschamps. Hopefully he can play good and stay there for a long time."

Walker’s situation may soon be complicated at club level, as well as the national team, with Guardiola saying their summer signing from Juventus, Portuguese international Joao Cancelo, is ready to start his City career.

He will be blooded in the busy schedule that follows next week's international break.

"When we come back, we play with Norwich, then go to the Ukraine, then another game here," said Guardiola.

"It starts the real season. Joao we're delighted what we've seen but he arrived late.

"There are many things Kyle knows completely and Joao is starting to understand what to do."

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