Pep Guardiola DIDN'T 'fail' at Bayern Munich despite not winning the Champions League - and the same will be true at Man City

Pep Guardiola Man City Bayern Munich GFX
The Catalan coach deserves more respect for dominating English and German football, even though Europe's biggest prize has eluded him since 2011

Revisionists will tell you that Pep Guardiola was a failure at Bayern Munich because he did not win the Champions League. They are lying. Rival fans will tell you that he will be a failure at Manchester City unless he wins Europe's biggest prize. They too are lying.

It cannot be denied that not lifting the European Cup since toppling Manchester United with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011 sticks in Guardiola's craw. A coach of his pedigree and with the squads he has had at his disposal should have won it more often.

But in knockout football there are so many unknown factors, chance events which can mean the difference between a place in the history books and being left empty handed.

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The league table, however, does not lie. Throughout the course of a season, you have the opportunity to make amends for freak results, and at both Bayern and City, and indeed Barcelona before then, Guardiola has swept the competition aside.

And so no matter what happens in City's blockbuster quarter-final tie against Bayern and old friend Thomas Tuchel, Guardiola deserves more respect for what he has done at both clubs. His astonishing achievements cannot be dismissed due to a series of mishaps in Europe.

  1. The fastest Bundesliga title win
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    The fastest Bundesliga title win

    When the Catalan took over at Bayern in 2013, refreshed after taking a sabbatical in New York following four intense years with Barcelona, he inherited a team that had just won the treble under predecessor Jupp Heynckes and broke the record for winning the Bundesliga at the earliest possible stage.

    Sounds ideal right? Not exactly. Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken on numerous occasions of the difficulty in keeping a successful team motivated. Vicente del Bosque, meanwhile, admitted that he could see that his Spain players were not motivated after winning the World Cup and back-to-back European Championships.

    But Guardiola managed to make a world-beating team even better domestically, wrapping up the title in March 2014 after 27 games, setting a new record for the fastest Bundesliga win and finishing the season with 90 points, 19 ahead of Jurgen Klopp's Borussia Dortmund in second.

    His side also set a record for earning the most points in the first half of the season, taking an astonishing 47 from a possible 51. Bayern then completed the double by comprehensively beating Dortmund 2-0 in the DFB-Pokal final.

    The only sour note of an otherwise dream first season was losing 5-0 on aggregate to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals, after knocking out Arsenal and Manchester United earlier in the competition.

  2. Another title but more European pain
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    Another title but more European pain

    The following season, Guardiola became the first Bayern manager to retain the Bundesliga title since Felix Magath in 2006.

    His side were not as ruthless as in the first campaign, picking up just 79 points, but still finished 10 ahead of closest challengers Wolfsburg.

    Bayern enjoyed some great European nights, thrashing Shakhtar Donetsk 7-0 in the last 16 and hammering Porto 6-1 in the quarter-finals, although there was more heartache against a Spanish team in the semi-finals.

    In an emotional first match against his beloved Barcelona, Pep's Bayern were beaten 3-0 at the Camp Nou, and though they won the second leg 3-2, they went out 5-3 on aggregate.

    It was a heavy defeat, but luck was definitely not on his side, as Arjen Robben, David Alaba and Franck Ribery all missed both legs, while Robert Lewandowski played while wearing a mask after breaking his jaw.

    Barca, meanwhile, had a full squad available and were firing on all cylinders in the first season of the magical 'MSN' forward line of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

    Bayern also missed out on the domestic cup, being beaten on penalties in the semi-finals by Dortmund. All in all, it was Guardiola's worst season in Munich, but still a pretty good one.

  3. A trophy-laden legacy and a sack full of records
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    A trophy-laden legacy and a sack full of records

    Bayern came back with a vengeance the following season, sweeping to the title with 88 points. And they were agonisingly close to making the Champions League final, losing out on away goals to Atletico Madrid in the semi-finals after Thomas Muller had missed a penalty and his team had 35 shots, 12 on target.

    Guardiola, who had already agreed to join City, still ended his tenure on a high by winning the DFB-Pokal, beating Thomas Tuchel's Dortmund in the final on penalties.

    He left Bayern having won five out of six domestic trophies, plus the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup.

    Guardiola’s Bayern scored a record 254 goals in 102 league matches while conceding just 58. They also kept 59 clean sheets - another record.

    He won 82 out of 104 games, a win percentage of 80.4 which destroyed that of his closest challenger, Ottmar Hitzfeld (58.4%).

    Guardiola's Bayern did not just win the Bundesliga, they utterly destroyed the opposition.

  4. A serene era in Bavaria compared to his successors
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    A serene era in Bavaria compared to his successors

    And it is easy to forget that before he arrived, the German title race was far from the cakewalk it has become for Bayern in the last decade.

    They failed to win the title in 2007, 2009, 2011 and 2012. In 2011, only two years before Guardiola joined, they came third.

    Guardiola's three-year tenure might not sound long either, but by Bayern standards, it was Ferguson-esque.

    His three years in charge make him their longest-serving manager since Hitzfeld, who spent six years at the helm between 1998 and 2004.

    Since the Catalan swapped Bavaria for Manchester, Carlo Ancelotti and Niko Kovac lasted little more than a year.

    Hansi Flick was given less than two years despite winning the treble, while Julian Nagelsmann was replaced by Thomas Tuchel in March as he was in danger of losing the Bundesliga title to Dortmund.

    Compared to his successors, Pep's time at Bayern was stable and serene and the the Bundesliga crown, which Bayern hold so dear, was never in doubt.

  5. Ripping up the Premier League rule book

    Ripping up the Premier League rule book

    When Guardiola joined City in 2016, his critics complained that he had taken another easy job at a rich club.

    The Catalan may have joined a club owned by the billionaire Abu Dhabi royal family and run by his old friends at Barcelona, Txiki Begiristain and Ferran Soriano, and they had won two of the last five Premier League titles, but it should not be forgotten that he inherited a team that had become demotivated under Manuel Pellegrini and finished 15 points off the pace of shock Premier League champions Leicester City. They had only scraped fourth spot ahead of Manchester United on goal difference.

    Guardiola overhauled the City squad in little more than year, taking a bold decision to get rid of Joe Hart and prioritising the signing of Ederson and four full-backs at a cost of around £200 million

    He was mocked when he finished his first season without a trophy, but emphatically silenced his doubters in his second campaign as City romped to the title and became the first team in the Premier League history to take 100 points.

    And they did it playing a style of slick, possession football that many pundits thought would never succeed in England.

  6. Seeing off the Klopp challenge & chasing down Arsenal

    Seeing off the Klopp challenge & chasing down Arsenal

    Just like at Bayern, Guardiola managed to do what many of his predecessors had failed to do and he kept winning with City.

    The team that won the club's first Premier League title in 2011-12 with Roberto Mancini failed to keep up the momentum the following year, finishing 11 points off Manchester United while losing the FA Cup final to Wigan, leading to the Italian being sacked.

    The same thing happened after Pellegrini had led them to the title in 2014.

    The opposite happened under Guardiola, though. City became more determined, holding off Liverpool to win the 2018-19 title with 98 points while also winning the FA Cup and League Cup, becoming the first English side to win a domestic treble.

    They surrendered the title to Liverpool in 2020, but swept to another crown in 2020-2021, while again pipping Klopp's side to the post last year.

    This season they may trail Mikel Arteta's Arsenal upstarts, but they are chasing them down, and if they win all of their remaining nine games, they will pip the Gunners to the title.

    On the eve of the game with Bayern, Ruben Dias spoke of how City come into their own in the final stretch of each season.

    "All of us have a special feeling, a special taste when it comes to this stage," he said. "Our team gets fed by these moments."

    The fact that City are so good at homing in on their rivals when it matters is all down to Guardiola, the master of keeping even serial winners motivated.

  7. City in Europe: So close yet so far

    City in Europe: So close yet so far

    City's failure to win the Champions League has provided a lot of amusement to rival fans. Barring Paris Saint-Germain, no team quite does spectacular eliminations like City.

    But on the other hand, they have been desperately unlucky.

    In Guardiola's first season, City won an epic last-16 first leg with a Monaco side containing Kylian Mbappe and Bernardo Silva 5-3, but lost the second leg 3-1, going out on away goals.

    In 2017-18, they were comprehensively beaten 5-1 on aggregate by Liverpool, although big decisions went against them.

    Their quarter-final exit to Tottenham in 2018-19, meanwhile, was desperately unlucky, again going out on away goals and having an injury-time winner ruled out for offside by VAR.

    Guardiola did, though, only had himself to blame for his tactics in the 2020 quarter-final defeat by Lyon and the 2021 final defeat by Chelsea, although on both occasions City missed clear scoring chances.

    And last year they played superbly against Real Madrid, leading the Spaniards for the majority of the tie until Rodrygo scored twice in stoppage time at the end of the second leg. They were not the only victims of a series of remarkable comebacks from the aristocrats of European football in 2021-22.

    "In this competition it's not about the form, it counts how you perform for 95 minutes, it doesn't count what you have done three days ago, in this competition you have to be perfect then," Guardiola said on the eve of the Bayern encounter.

    No team have performed as well as City in Europe over the last six years and achieved so little. By Guardiola's own admission, they have not been perfect. But domestically, his City side have been as close to perfection as possible.

    The same was true with his Bayern side. And it is ridiculous to disregard everything Guardiola has achieved since leaving Barcelona just because he has been unable to lift football's holy grail since 2011.