Trophy king Pep Guardiola knows Champions League win with Man City would silence doubters forever

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·3-min read
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 (Manchester City FC via Getty Ima)
(Manchester City FC via Getty Ima)

Old Trafford, January last year and Pep Guardiola drinks in his surroundings from the dugout.

The question is put to him by a colleague, "What if?" What if the success he had achieved at Manchester City had been secured with their red rivals instead? The style of football, the dominance and the procession of trophies. How would history remember him if he had made Manchester United the finest team in the land, rather than City?

To be clear, this was in no way a case of remorse at having resisted United's overtures when his reign at Bayern Munich came to an end. It is safe to assume he would still be welcomed with open arms if he ever did fancy a change of scenery. He would, however, rather spend his days playing golf than ever manage United.

The point of that conversation last year was the jibes Guardiola has had to face since taking over at City in 2016 and throughout his coaching career.

Despite being feted as one of the greatest managers of all time, each triumph has been subjected to the odd qualification. And that is not lost on Guardiola or those close to him.

The Catalan's two-time Champions League-winning Barcelona might have been the finest club team the world has ever seen, but was that down to Guardiola or the magic of Lionel Messi?

From Barca to Bayern, he maintained his winning habit with seven trophies in three seasons, including a hat-trick of titles. In that instance, success had the caveat of 'the shirt', as one source put it. In other words, anyone can dominate Germany with Bayern. That Guardiola took charge of a team that had just been crowned European champions, yet left without reaching another final, was deemed as some sort of failure.

Then came the move to City: Premier League dominance, an unprecedented domestic Treble and more.

In this instance, the money lavished on the most expensive squad in history is used to temper celebration of his achievements. Guardiola expected as much, but last season there was a sense that it had become wearying.

But it is hard to imagine anyone trying to qualify his achievements had he been the man to restore United to their former glories; rather, he would have been feted for awakening a sleeping giant, much like

Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool. Perhaps that is football snobbery at play, yet if Guardiola leads them to Champions League Final victory against Chelsea in Porto on Saturday, he may finally silence the last of the critics intent on splitting hairs when it comes to his achievements.

To win the Champions League in this of all seasons would see him rise to even greater heights.

His response to the challenge laid down by Klopp and Liverpool has been nothing short of remarkable — winning the title at a canter after City were written off before Christmas.

But most impressive has been Guardiola's reinvention of his team and, to an extent, himself. He signed a new contract that was seriously in doubt heading into this campaign and his natural attacking instincts have given way to the pragmatism of using a solid defence as the platform of his team.

 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Guardiola has proved he can rebuild — something he had previously never stuck around long enough to do.

Ruben Dias has been a revelation, David Silva has not been missed — nor has Sergio Aguero, after a season of illness and injury.

Guardiola has gone again, built a new City, one that could dominate for years to come.

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