And Ferguson might be even sorer by tomorrow night if Guardiola becomes the first manager in history to win the Treble twice, and the only other coach in English football to claim the three biggest trophies in a season after the Scot’s Manchester United in 1999.
If Guardiola’s Manchester City beat Inter in Istanbul, they will add the Champions League crown to the League title and FA Cup, a feat which will inevitably increase the comparisons between the Catalan and Ferguson, the two outstanding contenders as the greatest managers of the Premier League era.
Certainly, there are compelling comparisons between the pair, not least in that their success has been achieved in the same city, albeit on different sides of the tracks.
They have reigned in contrasting styles, with Ferguson perhaps the last old-school manager to rule over every aspect of a club and Guardiola focused principally on coaching, but some of their methods bear similarities.
They have, for example, both proven adept at refreshing their winning machines, knowing when to move on celebrated players — be it Roy Keane or Joao Cancelo — or innovate tactically in the relentless pursuit of success.
While Guardiola has a clear edge in terms of the sheer influence of his ideas on the game, Ferguson can point to the way he built up United (not to mention Aberdeen) from the bottom up, rather then inheriting great sides as Guardiola has always done.
If Guardiola finally conquers Europe with City tomorrow — he already has two Champions League titles with Barcelona, having beaten Ferguson’s United in the 2009 and 2011 finals — he will also have followed a similar timeline to his former rival in dominating English football for half-a-decade before achieving a much-coveted success on the continent.
Ferguson first won the Premier League in 1992-93 with United, but it was not for another six years, in which United added three more domestic titles, that they finally beat Bayern Munich to clinch the Treble.
Likewise, Guardiola’s City have won five of seven League titles since he came to England but the Champions League has so far evaded him. The pair, therefore, share a frustration at underachieving in Europe while in Manchester, although Guardiola has time to ensure tomorrow is just the start for City.
Ferguson has always felt that two European Cups in his 26 years at the club were not enough, particularly considering United won 13 League titles in the same period, while Guardiola’s City have repeatedly underwhelmed on the continent.
Ferguson may have often had a financial edge over many of his domestic rivals, but Guardiola has had an unmatched structure and environment
Losing against Inter would be the biggest shock yet, but Guardiola can look back with regret on each of City’s exits over the past six years, including knockout defeats by Monaco, Tottenham and Lyon, in which his side were firm favourites. Going on to dominate in Europe, as well as domestically, would surely give Guardiola an edge over Ferguson, although it is important, too, to consider the wider context.
Ferguson may have often had a financial edge over many of his domestic rivals, but Guardiola has had an unmatched structure and environment built and funded by the state of Abu Dhabi.
While everyone knows the jeopardy of Ferguson’s European success in 1999, principally United’s last-minute comeback against Bayern, there has long been a numbing sense of inevitability about Guardiola’s City eventually getting their hands on the Champions League.
Their dominance over not only English but European football has so far been absolute this season, underlined by their 4-0 win over holders Real Madrid to book their place in the final (by contrast, United had to come back from two goals down to beat Juventus in a dramatic 1999 semi-final).
This dominance is a result of both Guardiola and the power of state-backed clubs. Over time, they will rise to the top if run coherently.
Unlike Ferguson’s United, it is hard to escape the feeling that there will always be caveats to City’s successes under Guardiola, perhaps even a giant asterisk next to their achievements, given the nature of their backing and the Premier League charges which dog them.
Those considerations will feel secondary to Guardiola’s genius if he can achieve immortality with City tomorrow, and in time he is likely to have a trophy for managerial excellence bearing his own name.
Whether he is ultimately considered greater than Ferguson, given their contrasting environments in the same city, remains to be seen.