PEP GUARDIOLA claimed Manchester City cannot be called the best without Champions League success.
Debate has raged since they completed back-to-back titles — with 198 points over two seasons — whether his team is one of the true greats.
If City beat Watford today at Wembley and lift the FA Cup, adding to Carabao Cup glory, they will be the first English side to complete the domestic Treble.
But manager Guardiola claims they still have to lift the ‘big one’ to be talked about in the same breath as Manchester United’s ’99 Treble winners.
Or the Liverpool teams that dominated Europe in the late 70s and early 80s.
He said: “You can’t fight against history — and their history is much bigger.
“I don’t think we are the best ever, we need longer.
“It’s a dream if people put us in the same bracket as those teams but maybe you have to win the Champions League.
“In the history of the Premier League, in terms of results, goals, points, we were the best.
I don’t know how far we can take this group — but it’s football and people can discuss
“But football is not just numbers. It’s not just statistics — it’s feelings and emotions.
“And I’m not going to say we are the best when Sir Alex Ferguson produced that amount of emotion for United fans, or Liverpool and Bob Paisley in the 80s.
“We are going to try but I think it’s unfair to say ‘the best’.
“I don’t know how far we can take this group — but it’s football and people can discuss.
“Being there with the teams you mentioned is incredible. We just could not expect to be in this position when I arrived.
“It’s because people enjoyed watching us, home and away.”
While some City fans do not seem to care for the Champions League, and will rightly laud a domestic Treble, Guardiola is adamant winning in Europe is vital to take the club to the next level.
In Spaniard Guardiola’s three seasons at City, he has reached the last 16 and two quarter-finals — agonisingly losing to Tottenham in the last eight this time around.
LAPORTE BEST SIGNING
But you sense that the former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss will not feel his job is done here until he tastes Champions League glory.
Guardiola said: “We want to do that. Of course it’s our dream to do it. But I have to improve, I have to see what I can do better to achieve that.
“I could not reach the Champions League semi-finals with City.
“It’s a tough competition. It’s more unpredictable and you play with emotions more than other competitions you play.
“You think, ‘I am going to go out or I am going to win’.
“The mistakes you can do in the defensive departments, they punish you a lot.
“These kind of little details in the domestic leagues, you get another chance.
“We cannot imagine what we would have done without Aymeric Laporte in this competition.
“He is the best signing we have done in the past four or five years — a young player with personality, he has everything.
“But against Tottenham, two balls and we conceded two goals. And in that competition, you are out.
I am pretty sure Liverpool will be stronger and more hungry to do it, to break this 30 years without the league title
Pep Guardiola on next season
“That’s why it’s so difficult, we have to accept it. We will work on I don’t know what, because we tried to do our best — but the Champion League is difficult.
“I can admit it. It’s not the same level as we have achieved in the other competitions.”
Still, City’s achievement in winning back-to-back titles cannot be downplayed.
Yet he realises the challenge will be even greater next season after pipping Liverpool to the championship by a point.
Guardiola explained: “The history belongs to us for this title.
“But we know exactly one second later which team we are going to face next season.
“I don’t have doubts. I am pretty sure Liverpool will be stronger and more hungry to do it, to break this 30 years without the league title.
“That is why we have to stay there. If we don’t, we are not going to win.
“I guess Chelsea, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham will also improve to be there next season.”
There is another problem for serial winners City as well. When you are on top, everybody wants to knock you off your perch.
Guardiola admitted: “People don’t like winners. Here, in Spain, in Italy — everywhere.”
Latest Manchester City Ne
The City fans certainly like these winners.
Victory at Wembley today and the debate will rage again as to whether this is the best side English football has seen.
Yet Guardiola, for one, will disagree.
This post written by John Hutchinson originally appeared on Football news - transfers, fixtures, scores, pictures | The Sun. Read the full post here.