08 Apr Pep’s learning curve
Pep Guardiola has promised improvement and to learn the lessons of his first season at Manchester City.
Much was expected from the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss when he took charge at City last summer but his side have underperformed in both the Premier League and Champions League.
A serious title challenge did not materialise and they exited the European competition at the last-16 stage.
Now fourth in the Premier League, City are facing a scrap for Champions League qualification and, even though the campaign could still end with FA Cup success, there is a feeling of underachievement.
This is particularly so for Guardiola, who won 21 trophies and never finished below second in a domestic table in seven years with Barca and Bayern.
He said: “I will be better, definitely. This season was a lesson for me.
“It’s normal when you have seven, eight or nine years as a manager to have a season where you don’t have as much success as before. It can happen. You learn about that.
“I never could imagine in Barcelona, Bayern or when I arrived here (I would) know absolutely everything. I tried to adapt as much as possible. I did it and I think we will be better.
“I feel like we’re better now so it is a more interesting year for me as a manager to grow and handle this kind of situation. I didn’t complain, I didn’t give up.”
City’s loss to Chelsea in midweek left them 14 points behind the leaders with seven games remaining.
Guardiola accepts his team have not been good enough and recognised their weaknesses – which he describes as “problems in the boxes” – early in the campaign. Even when City crushed Steaua Bucharest in a Champions League play-off in August, Guardiola felt his side were short of the required standard.
He said: “In the first Champions League game, especially in attack, against Steaua Bucharest when we won 6-0 (on aggregate). Normally, that game would be 12-0. We missed two penalties and so many chances.
“I was happy because the first target was to qualify but after that in the (drawn) Everton and Middlesbrough games I realised we had to play really, really, really good to win the games.
“But when that happened we didn’t win three or four different games. We created chances but we had problems to score and after that we suffered.
“We have to work harder and better to minimise these kind of things and improve the way we play, especially in the big games.
“We were good but not good enough. We have to be honest with ourselves. We were not good enough to compete for the Premier League.”
Guardiola insists, however, that the current season is not a write-off.
He said: “We have a lot of beautiful things left to fight for this season. The Champions League is so important, (qualifying) will be a huge success from my point of view and of course we have the FA Cup. We still have a lot of things to do.”