Pep Guardiola has insisted he should not be judged any differently to his predecessor Manuel Pellegrini after admitting his first season as Manchester City manager has fallen well below expectations.
City face Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley on Sunday afternoon, with the competition representing Guardiola’s last chance of silverware as he bids to avoid the first trophyless season of his gilded coaching career.
Under Pellegrini last term, City won the League Cup, reached the Champions League semi-finals and finished fourth in the Premier League, a return that Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the club’s chairman, said he “would categorise as the bare minimum” in a damning end of season review.
Al-Mubarak said Guardiola was brought to City as Pellegrini’s replacement to “transform our team to a new level”, but with City eliminated from the Champions League in the Round of 16 and currently fourth in the Premier League, 11 points adrift of leaders Chelsea, those expectations have not been met.
Guardiola – who won 21 trophies in seven seasons at Barcelona and Bayern Munich - acknowledged as much and admitted City would have to be greatly improved next season.
Asked if he would be judged in the same way as Pellegrini, Guardiola said: “Why not? Why should it be different? The target is there. I am here. In my career I won lots of titles and if the people say I was a disaster [in my first season at City] I can accept that.
“We were not good enough [to have any players in the PFA Team of the Year]. It depends on what people’s expectations of the team were at the beginning of the season. Was it to win all the titles?
“If that was the chairman’s expectations then we have missed – and so we have to improve. If they believe they can still do it with me, I am here. If they don’t believe it then they have to change.”
Guardiola said he will be judged at City on the silverware he wins. “Managers are judged on trophies,” he said. “I am good because I have won titles. I would not be here if my years in Barcelona and Bayern Munich were not good.
“Of course, I hoped to win titles. When I arrived in Barcelona I still remember what the people said after my first game was a defeat. They destroyed me. After that I was God – because I won titles. It was the same in Bayern Munich.
“So I am here to be judged on the success we have. So I know that when we can’t win titles I will be criticised. The expectation was so high when I arrived because of what I did in the past. I have to accept that and deal with it.”
Guardiola will be given the funds to overhaul City’s squad in the summer, with as many as seven new players being targeted. One of those is Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez and Guardiola claimed it was inevitable the Chilean is being linked with other clubs given that he has just over a year to run on his contract.
“Put Kevin de Bruyne with one year left on his contract and see how many teams [are interested],” Guardiola said.
“How do big clubs improve their teams? Better players. So of course big clubs around the world, they are going to know his situation.”