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27th May 2022

Rio Ferdinand: Pep isn’t a failure for not winning Champions League at City

Daniel Brown

‘It’s bollocks. Sorry but it’s rubbish.’

Rio Ferdinand has rubbished claims that Pep Gurdiola is a ‘failure’ if he doesn’t win the Champions League with Manchester City, insisting he has revolutionised football.

Guardiola failed in his quest to bring the Champions League trophy to City for the sixth straight season as his men collapsed in the final seconds of their semi-final clash with Real Madrid.

The Premier League champions conceded twice in 91 seconds and in extra-time to lose 3-1 at the Bernabeu and exit the competition.

Guardiola – who won the Champions League twice as Barcelona boss – has failed to do so with Bayern Munich and most recently with City.

Some pundits and former players have suggested that it would be a ‘failure’ if the Spaniard fails to win Europe’s most prestigious trophy with the Citizens, but ex-Manchester United defender Ferdinand has dismissed those suggestions.

Ferdinand defends Guardiola after Champions league exit

Speaking exclusively to JOE ahead of the Champions League final between Liverpool and Madrid on Saturday night, the former England captain was asked about his former teammate Patrice Evra’s comments about Guardiola.

The Frenchman had claimed the City boss intentionally builds teams of players without personality and leadership qualities.

Evra appeared to blame their collapse on a lack of leadership within the team. Guardiola, he claimed, preferred his teams to be without leaders as he was unable to train players with personality.

However, Ferdinand told JOE: “I don’t agree with that [Evra’s comments about Guardiola] if I’m honest. Pep Guardiola is more than just about winning the Champions League.

“Pep Guardiola has revolutionised the way coaches at every level of the game see football, before Guardiola started making teams play out from the back and centre-backs dropping almost near the corner flag, who was doing that? Nobody.

“Who had their full-backs playing in centre midfield when they were in possession of the ball? Now you’re seeing Sunday league managers, non-league managers, lower division managers in all countries trying to play like this.

“To do that, you have to have some sort of personality. To get players playing like that, and continue to win domestically, you have to have some sort of character and personality.”

He added: “Jack Grealish’s chance gets taken off the course of going in by [Thibaut] Courtois’ stud, they’re a millimetre either side of that of going through to this final and the narrative is different.”

When asked what he thought to people suggesting that Guardiola has ‘failed’ if he doesn’t win the Champions League with Man City, he replied: “Bollocks. Bollocks. Sorry but it’s rubbish.

“He’s won the Champions League more than once. People say it’s because he had [Lionel] Messi, it’s not just because he had Messi, he still created a framework for that team to play, a framework for all those players to excel.

“Seven of those players came through the youth team, they’re the best club team we’ve seen, bar none.

“He went to Germany and dominated domestically, albeit at Bayern Munich who do most of the time anyway, he still had to continue that.

“They still went up a level, if you ask every player in that team when he came there, they’re going, ‘oh my God, I’ve never known anything like this’.

“He goes to Manchester City and they’re dominating domestically since he got there, it’s ridiculous. Him and [Jurgen] Klopp have raised the bar to a level that’s never been seen, points wise.

“So to judge him [Guardiola] that he hasn’t won the Champions League since the couple he won at Barcelona, blasphemy.”

Prior to securing the Premier League title on the final day of the season, Guardioa claimed that City would match the achievements of Manchester United under Sir Alex Ferguson with another triumph.

Related links:

Watch BT Sport’s Champions League Immortals on BT Sport 1 from 5pm on Saturday 28th May to see who makes the greatest UCL XI of all time. The final episode will be followed by BT Sport’s exclusive live coverage of the Champions League final from 6pm on BT Sport 1, the BT Sport App and the BT Sport YouTube channel.