Pep Guardiola insists he will continue to prioritise the Premier League at Manchester City and feels Champions League success may still be a bridge too far next season.
City play for the first time since being crowned Premier League champions when they face Swansea City on Sunday, a dominant triumph they secured with five games to spare.
A 5-1 aggregate loss to Liverpool in the Champions League quarter-finals threatened to take some of the shine off Guardiola's achievement as his team approached the finish line domestically and the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss – now a seven-time champion across Europe's major divisions – feels sustained Premier League success is the best way to establish City as an imposing European presence.
"I realised this season how difficult it will be to win the Champions League," he said.
"Maybe I'm wrong but to win the Champions League you have to win more Premier Leagues in a row to get the respect that you are a top club.
1 - Pep Guardiola is the first Spanish manager to win the English top-flight title. Pioneer. pic.twitter.com/9Br1HQZxyt— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 15, 2018
"Of course, we are going to try but I don't know if we are ready as a club, to have the power on and off the pitch to get there.
"I would prefer, like this season, to be solid in the Premier League. It's the priority, absolutely. I would sign right now what we have done this season for the next season."
That is not to say Guardiola, who lifted the trophy once as a player and twice as a coach at Barca, does not value European football's most coveted prize.
"Believe me, I dream to play the semi-final of the Champions League, the final or win it," said the Catalan, who will discuss the prospect of adding to the one remaining year of his City contract at the end of this season.
"I know when I was a player and there twice as a manager you feel the most beautiful. I know how beautiful it is to finish the season with that trophy.
"But I prefer to have a team who is there every day like a machine, every day. Good conditions or bad conditions, home or away.
"When a team in a decade wins eight or nine times, that is top. That is why always in the next season I want to be focused in the Premier League. From pre-season and in the first and second games."
As such, City's players seemingly have no chance of escaping Guardiola's critical glare next season, with their manager chuckling about how "our relationship will not be so friendly as this season" when discussing the threat of complacency that faces all champions.
"It's what I handled in Barcelona and Bayern Munich," he added, considering the challenge of becoming the first manager to retain the Premier League since Alex Ferguson in 2008-09.
"It is more difficult because the players start to believe what we have done in the past is thanks to me and that allows us to play right now and in the future. That is not the truth.
"Maybe the five metres you have to do, you do three and those two metres make the difference.
"That's why next season will be more difficult, our relationship will be harder. I know I have to press more, I have to be in front of them more, I have to make sure they arrive at the training session at the right time."
17 de enero 2019
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