Pep Guardiola's domestic success should be celebrated and not underestimated
- Why Pep Guardiola's achievements with Manchester City should be celebrated regardless of whether he achieves success in Europe.
When talk turns to Pep Guardiola's reign as Manchester City manager, it is his record in Europe that many people feel he will ultimately be judged on.
Winning the Champions League is a massive goal for the club and one of the key reasons why Guardiola was appointed after his previous success in European competition with Barcelona.
The pressure to win the coveted trophy has increased following the news that the club faces a possible two-year ban from Europe, following breaches of financial fair play regulations.
However regardless of whether Guardiola manages to lead Manchester City to glory in Europe or not, his reign should undoubtedly be considered a resounding success, courtesy a period of unprecedented domestic dominance.
Following a trophyless first season when City finished third in the league, lost in the FA Cup semi-final to Arsenal, and were knocked out of the League Cup by Manchester United, the Cityzens have enjoyed an incredible run of success.
In 2017-18, Guardiola won his first League Cup and his first trophy with the club, comprehensively outplaying Arsenal in the final. They followed this with the Premier League title, losing only two games all season as they secured the title with a record 100 points. The only surprise was that they didn't add the FA Cup to their collection after a shock defeat away from home at Wigan Athletic in the fifth round.
In 2018-19, they would fall short in Europe once again but would sweep all domestic honours before them, becoming the first team in the history of the English game to complete a clean sweep of all domestic trophies. They started this run of success with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Chelsea, with both goals scored by Sergio Aguero.
They would then win the League Cup for a second year in a row, beating Chelsea on penalties, in a game that will be remembered for Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga refusing to be substituted by Maurizio Sarri. City also comfortably claimed FA Cup success, aside from a scare away at Swansea City in the quarter-final's, eventually beating Watford 6-0 at Wembley.
It would be in the Premier League that they would face their toughest test in the form of Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool. City lost four games across December and January to leave themselves trailing in the title race. However, an extraordinary run of 14 straight league victories was enough for them to pip a Liverpool side who only lost one game all season (to City) but simply drew too many.
This season has been a slightly different story Guardiola's men though. They started the season with another victory in the Community Shield, defeating Liverpool on penalties after a 1-1 draw in normal time. They then won the League Cup once again, meaning Guardiola equalled the great Bob Paisley's record of winning three League Cups in a row.
They are also still in the FA Cup where they will expect to progress past Sheffield Wednesday in the 5th round.
However, they are set to lose their grip on the Premier League title, with a combination of Liverpool's relentless form and some surprise defeats for City meaning Guardiola won't be lifting that trophy for a third year in a row.
With Guardiola expected to see out the final year of his contract, regardless of whether the European ban is enforced, we can expect to see him lifting plenty more trophies in the next 18 months.
His relentless desire to win every trophy available makes him different from other managers and when he does quit English football, he will leave a philosophy and legacy that should be celebrated long after he's gone.Published 02 Mar 2020, 22:45 IST