Pep Guardiola has one job at Manchester City. Win the Champions League. The Premier League wins are nice, the cups are nice, but everyone and their mother knows the club’s main ambition is to conquer Europe.
Pep has now gone three years at City, and six years without Messi, without winning the Champions League. That’s a pretty big fail considering his #1 priority at his last two jobs (City and Bayern Munich) was to win the Champions League.
Pep is a prideful guy who doesn’t like others to think he’s a failure. That’s why Pep said “winning the domestic treble is a bigger accomplishment than the Champions League,” after City beat Watford in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Get lost dude.
I’m not trying to take away from the domestic treble. It is clearly very hard to do since no one in England had ever done it before.
The League Cup tends to be where Premier League sides play more of their reserves. Regardless of who your playing you need to trust that your reserves can get the job done. That’s certainly a bit easier when your “reserves” are £60 million Riyad Mahrez, Kevin de Bruyne, and Gabriel Jesus.
You can argue that this actually makes home draws vs lower level opposition harder. Those teams will always be up for going to Manchester City and getting a win so they can say they did it, regardless of who is actually wearing the City shirt.
Winning the FA Cup is no easy feat either. It starts right after the festive period where injuries and fatigue are very prevalent. Navigating those two January rounds is difficult. Your top players need rest, but again lower level teams are up for the giant killing.
In another year maybe we can argue if Pep’s comments have merits. The problem is, Pep’s team just completed will undoubtedly be the easiest domestic treble ever*.
*That doesn’t include the Premier League. We covered this last week. City had the most impressive Premier League season ever. Having to win 14 in a row to retain the title against a team that beat the old record for points in a season. It’s hard to get more impressive than that.
It’s the other two legs of this treble that couldn’t have been easier.
Let’s take a look at how they won their cups. (place in table at time of match)
Oxford United (23rd League One)
Fulham (18th Premier League)
Leicester (9th Premier League) – won on penalties
Burton Albion (13th League One)
Chelsea (4th Premier League) – won on penalties
Rotherham (22nd Championship)
Burnley (14th Premier League)
Newport County (12th League Two)
Swansea City (11th Championship)
Brighton & Hove Albion (14th Premier League)
Watford (11th Premier League)
I get that you can only play who you’re drawn against but my god, could they have made it any easier? City only played two teams in the top half of the Premier League, and those were the only two teams that were in the top half of their respective leagues!
It’s hard to get an easier draw than that. And in the games that City did have to play decent teams, they won neither of those games!
Compare City’s draws with those of their top six rivals:
Liverpool: (EFL Cup) Chelsea: (FA Cup) Wolves
Chelsea: (EFL Cup) Liverpool, Derby County, Bournemouth, Tottenham, City: (FA Cup) Nottingham Forest, Sheffield Wednesday, Manchester United
Tottenham: (EFL Cup) Watford, West Ham, Arsenal, Chelsea: (FA Cup) Tranmere Rovers, Crystal Palace
Arsenal: Brentford, Blackpool, Tottenham: (FA Cup) Blackpool, Manchester United
Manchester United: (EFL Cup) Derby County: (FA Cup) Reading, Arsenal, Chelsea, Wolves
Those are what a draw is supposed to look like. A mix of lower level clubs and some real challenges. City avoided all of that.
Perhaps Pep thinks this a bigger accomplishment because he realizes his record in knockout tournaments isn’t great, especially against the top English sides.
In Pep’s career the only top six English side he’s knocked out of a competition was David Moyes’ Manchester United (who finished 7th) when he was with Bayern Munich. At City Pep has never beaten a top six side in a knockout competition (domestic or European) before the final (he’s lost to Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, and Tottenham).
If you’d beaten any of them this year, we can talk about the merits of your argument. But you didn’t. You didn’t even beat Chelsea. The reality is these two cups were basically handed to you this year.
But hey go ahead and say whatever helps you sleep at night. Nobody believes it.