I’m nervous now, I’ll be honest. Earlier in the week I wrote about my fears over the match and how it might come down to which team has handled the break since the end of the season better, fearing a repeat of the rustiness we saw the last time the Reds went on holiday for a bit. Now we’re just days away from the biggest match of the campaign and it’s impossible not to play through every possible outcome in your head. Losing it would be painful, but losing it to a goal scored by Harry Kane would make me want to climb under a rock and hide away for the rest of time. Theoretically the pain of losing in the last Champions League final we were in, all of twelve months ago, should be enough to drive the players over the line and they showed in the comeback against Barcelona that they know what they need to do to end up with the silverware that they so richly deserve, but what if all of the lost finals they’ve suffered start to get into their heads?
Jose on Klopp:
“If Jurgen doesn’t win, you know….to lose three Champions League finals…pfttt…that has to be really, really hard.” #mufc pic.twitter.com/XiDjoPb8pR
— ManUnitedZone (@ManUnitedZone_) May 24, 2019
This time next week we’ll either all have horrendous hangovers from having celebrated Liverpool winning their sixth European Cup, or else we’ll have horrendous hangovers from needing to drown our sorrows after seeing an inferior team lift the trophy in our place. Either way, if you drink then there’s a real chance you’ll have an horrendous hangover this time next week. There’s no doubt in my mind that Jürgen Klopp and his players deserve to win a trophy this season. To miss out on the league title having amassed 97 points is sickening, but to lose two Champions League finals in a row would be a heartbreak that I’m not sure the players would recover from. Picking themselves up to go again after missing out on the title will be easy enough because they know how good a team they are, but if they start to develop a losing mentality in cup finals then that might be something that haunts them forever. Regardless, though, one of these two managers is going to have the most impressive season of any manager in England come full-time on Saturday.
Pep’s Achievements Are Impressive
This isn’t about bitterness. There is no question that winning an unprecedented treble is a remarkable achievement. That it has never been done before, when you consider the sheer quality of teams that have existed in the Premier League era alone, is remarkable. From Alex Ferguson’s all-conquering Manchester United side to José Mourinho’s relentless Chelsea team via Arsene Wenger’s Invincibles, some of the sides that have won silverware since 1992 have been scarily good. That’s to say nothing of the fact that football existed before Sky reinvented the game, with the 1980s witnessing Liverpool teams that our parents tell us were the best to ever play the game. With that in mind, then, I want to take nothing away from Pep Guardiola and his players, who have done something none of those teams ever managed and won a domestic treble.
📸 | Squad 🏆🏆🏆🏆
— Manchester City 🇫🇷 (@MCityFrance) May 24, 2019
Yet, in the years to come there is no doubt in my mind that Manchester City’s achievements during the ownership of Sheikh Mansour will have an asterisk against them in the record books. When the full details of the club’s financial dealings emerge I believe it will likely be something that rocks the football world on a par with the FIFA corruption scandal and the Juventus match fixing trial. It’s not that other clubs haven’t spent money, it’s the brazen way in which City have done it without having to sell any of their best players and by simply amassing a squad that is world-class player on top of world class player. It also has to be noted that City’s list of opponents during the two cup runs looks as follows:
- Rotherham United (FA Cup)
- Burnley (FA Cup)
- Newport County (FA Cup)
- Swansea City (FA Cup)
- Brighton & Hove Albion (FA Cup)
- Watford (FA Cup)
- Oxford United
- Leicester City
- Burton Albion
To reach the final of both cup competitions whilst having to play just two teams that finished in the top ten of the Premier League is ludicrous, with the fact that they needed penalties to overcome both of them being noteworthy. You can only beat what’s put in front of you, but that doesn’t mean that people have to respect the achievement.
The Resources Available To Both Managers In Comparison To Pep Are Why
Both teams have spent money since Mauricio Pochettino and Jürgen Klopp were appointed to their posts, with the German outspending his Argentinian rival by about £200 million, not taking players sold into account. To put that into some sort of context, though, Guardiola has spent almost £100 million more than both of them combined during his time at the Etihad. With that in mind, isn’t there are an argument that a treble is the least he should be achieving during his time in Manchester? Whilst I’ll be absolutely devastated if we lose to Spurs on Saturday, I’ll be glad to see a manager that hasn’t spent any money on signings for a year lift the trophy rather than one that has outspent any other manager in the history of the Premier League.
2 years in CL
2 finals made
Inherited a team 10th in the PL
Rough net spend=100m while starting with a shit squad
3 years in CL
Inherited a world class team that had already won the PL before
Roughnetspend=500m on top of a already amazing team
— Simba👑🦁 (@PrimeMoSalah) May 24, 2019
Both managers have spent money but they haven’t done it on anywhere near the scale that Guardiola has during his time in England. When you then look at the list of teams that City had to take on in order to win the League Cup and FA Cup and compare it to the fact that Tottenham needed to beat Borussia Dortmund, City themselves and Ajax after escaping from a group containing Barcelona, Inter Milan and PSV Eindhoven, you can see the difference in the journeys. For our part, the Reds had to make it past the French champions in the group stage and the German and Spanish champions in the knockout rounds in order to reach the final. Whichever team wins, no one can say that they made the final the easy way. No one can say that Guardiola’s achievement this season hasn’t been impressive, but when consider the journeys they’ve been on and the outlay spent to get them there, I think whichever one of Klopp and Pochettino ends up as the manager of the European champions will have a right to feel they’ve achieved more.
I don’t hold out much hope of some major revelations from the investigations into City’s finances. They’ve retained 3 of the top legal firms in the UK and they have unlimited resources with which to fight any investigation. Their defence seems to be “well if you look at our official records, we’re compliant”. The other stuff was obtained illegally and you weren’t supposed to see it”. That argument may stand up in court but if it doesn’t, they’ll probably just buy their way out of this latest jam. I have a friend who is a fanatical City fan. I regularly e-mail him the latest accusations and despite being as ethical a person as I know, he doesn’t care how City win, how much they spent, who they did or didn’t play on the way to the treble. He doesn’t care what rules they may have broken, and like Pep, believes none of this tarnishes what they’ve accomplished. My view is that if City are allowed to essentially break the rules with impunity, Premier League fans will eventually start tuning out of what they see as a foregone conclusion every year.