Belfast Telegraph

Manchester City must Pep up the quest for trophies: Pep Guardiola

 

By Andy Hampson

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola admits he is some way short of fulfilling the club's expectations of him.

Guardiola has been unable to sustain a Premier League title challenge in his first season as City manager while his side's Champions League campaign ended at the last-16 stage.

The Spaniard has been pleased with some aspects of City's progress, as they face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals tomorrow, but he knows he is being judged by much higher standards.

Last season Guardiola's predecessor Manuel Pellegrini won the League Cup, finished fourth in the Premier League and reached the Champions League semi-finals, which club bosses rated as a disappointing year.

Guardiola said: "I don't think they will be happy.

"The expectations of the club are as high as possible and are to win the titles that are on the table. So if they are not happy I can completely understand.

"We could have done better in terms of the results and even in the way we played because we wanted to be in the race for the title and in the Champions League until the end.

"Despite the fact that I am happy with what we've done, it is still not enough."

City and Guardiola were criticised after last month's Champions League loss to Monaco, when they went out on away goals after losing the second leg in the principality 3-1.

Guardiola feels, at least, the response to that dispiriting loss - they had gone into the game with a 5-3 aggregate lead - has been positive.

City played out a pulsating 1-1 draw with Liverpool in their first outing after the defeat before decent performances, even though they did not win, in testing back-to-back fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea.

He said: "This is a fantastic club, a fantastic team. I'm so proud of them, especially in the bad moments like how we overcame our defeat in the Champions League against Liverpool.

"The people cannot imagine when you are out of the Champions League, to play Liverpool just three days later, who have had a week of rest, 1-0 down, how we played that game.

"That is how I want to see my team.

"We went to London to play Arsenal and in the first half we played as well as we have all season."

Gabriel Jesus could make a dramatic return for City. The Brazil striker has been out for the past two months after undergoing surgery to repair a broken bone in his foot.

Guardiola has confirmed the 20-year-old will travel to London with the squad and is in contention to play, perhaps even to start.

The City boss said: "He's really, really much, much better.

"He will take part in training with us. He's coming back with his happiness and we are so happy he's back again.

"We are going to travel with all the squad to Wembley, all the group, and he will be part of that. After that, we will see.

"We will watch the match between Tottenham and Chelsea and after dinner I will decide the team."

Asked if he had ruled out a starting spot for Jesus, Guardiola said: "No."

Jesus made a big impression after joining City from Palmeiras in January, scoring three goals in five appearances and briefly displacing the prolific Sergio Aguero from the team.

Guardiola said: "He has made an impact.

"You know how difficult it is to come into the Premier League and play how we play but in just 10 minutes against Tottenham he created two or three chances himself and scored (a goal which was disallowed).

"In any case when players are injured I am happy they are coming back - especially for him.

"He had all Europe in his hands and he decided to come here and join us. We can't forget that.

"I am so happy he joined us here."

Meanwhile, City will have €40million (£33.4million) refunded after Uefa confirmed the club had complied with sanctions imposed for breaching Financial Fair Play rules.

City were hit with a €60million fine, transfer restrictions and forced to name a smaller Champions League squad than usual after being found guilty of breaching the European governing body's regulations in 2014.

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