Success is not foreign to Pep Guardiola- the furthest thing from it. In his 13 years in management, he has won an impressive 10 league titles in 3 of Europe's top 5 leagues. Yet somehow, after clinching the Premier League title this Sunday he was in tears.
May , 2022
However, this season seems to have pushed Pep to the emotional limits we haven't seen since his days dueling Jose Mourinho's Real Madrid. From mind games to the creation of a siege mentality, which plays right out of Mourinho's playbook, this season saw Guardiola have to dig deep in himself and his players.
"Everyone in this country supports Liverpool, the media and everyone, of course, because Liverpool has an incredible history behind in European competition", the Spanish maestro said of his believed bias towards Liverpool. "The people want Liverpool to win more than us. It’s not an issue. It’s normal. Maybe they have more supporters all around the world and in England more support Liverpool than us."
The nature of Liverpool rivaling City was always going to create a dichotomy that would cast City as the villain. Sarcastically labeled as "plucky underdogs" due to their seemingly bottomless coffers, the tongue-in-cheek attitude towards his team was bound to rub him off the wrong way.
The tip of the iceberg was seemingly City's disastrous collapse at the Bernabeu versus Real Madrid. The work put in by his staff, players, and himself was undermined due to their failure to reach the club's European showpiece final.
"Even though again they finished one point behind us, I think they played an incredible season, and we pushed each other to the limit", Sunday's two-goal hero Ilkay Gundogon said during the Citizen's title celebrations. "I know it's tough to say, but if Liverpool wouldn't be there and play the way they play, very successful, this league wouldn't be that attractive."
The rivalry has not only kept City and Pep on their toes but has brought out humanity to the near-faultless Catalan. It means something more to win league titles in the way they do because of the stern competition they face.
"The magnitude of the achievement is related to the magnitude of our rival and I have never seen a team like Liverpool in my life "
Guardiola went on to congratulate Liverpool and admit that "they have made us better and better each week."
The superhuman aura that has become associated with his career found its kryptonite this season and Sunday's tears are an admission that it's not perfection he seeks but like any other football fan, it's a joy from watching the team you support to win a high stakes football match.