As Man City’s expensively assembled squad step out on the Etihad Stadium pitch on Tuesday evening, Pep Guardiola will once again experience the pressure that comes with the expectation of winning a game in European football’s premier competition, the Champions League.
For all of his evident qualities as a manager, he hasn’t managed to coach a team to victory in the competition since 2011 when his swashbuckling Barcelona side beat Manchester United 3-1 at Wembley.
To this point, it hasn’t seemed to matter which players he’s brought to the north west giants, and to Bayern Munich before trying his luck in the Premier League, because when the going has got tough, City haven’t been able to get going.
Undoubtedly their best chance was when they reached the final in 2021 only to lose against Chelsea.
They most certainly are a big club now, but there are question marks over whether the players have that big club mentality. The serial Premier League winners just don’t seem to be able to translate that onto the European stage.
Time is of the essence now of course.
As Sky Sports recently reported, with City being charged with breaking FFP rules over 100 times, there’s every possibility that sanctions will be severe.
Though there’s no timescale on when matters will come before the authorities, it’s unlikely that these will be held in abeyance for too long.
With that in mind, it’s worth considering just what would happen to a number of City’s players should they, for example, be banned from Europe.
It really does seem as if it’s now or never for Pep.
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