Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola grateful for small margins


A delighted Pep Guardiola said Manchester City’s 1-0 victory over Internazionale at Istanbul’s Ataturk Olympic Stadium that claimed the Champions League and a historic treble was “written in the stars”.

Rodri’s 68th-minute strike gave City a first European Cup in a hard-fought final in which Romelu Lukaku spurned a late chance to equalise with a header, Ederson saving via a knee at close range.

Guardiola said: “It was written in the stars that we’d win this season – and we did. I’m feeling tired, calm and satisfied. This fucking trophy is so difficult to win. We knew it would be hard. They are really good. We were anxious in the first half but it was a question of being patient. I told them to be patient.

City join Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United 1998-99 vintage as the only English teams to claim the treble. Guardiola said: “It is a honour to sit alongside Sir Alex Ferguson – I got a message in my phone this morning from him that touched me.”

This was City’s 12th major trophy under Guardiola. “Maybe we can build a museum for all the trophies,” he said.

Guardiola thanked the club hierarchy. “They support me unconditionally in the defeats in this competition,” he said. “In many clubs if that would happen you are sacked.”

Of next season, Guardiola said: “No, don’t talk, I need a break. My chairman said: ‘Oh, London is next season’s venue [Wembley] of the final,’ so I don’t tell you my answer to him. Now is time to celebrate. There are teams who win the Champions League and disappear. We have to avoid it. Knowing me it is not going to happen but it is a big relief to have this trophy. Now we don’t get asked about it.

“Especially this season, the entire world says if we don’t win the Champions League we will not be complete and I agree, I have to accept it, that maybe it is me that is wrong … People [may]say I have to win trebles every season. I am good manager, Pep, but not that good.”

Rodri, who was dropped for City’s 2021 Champions League final defeat by Chelsea, said he had been playing poorly before the break. “I wasn’t good in the first half – I was playing shit to be honest,” the midfielder said. “I just said to myself: ‘You have to calm the situation.’ And I scored a goal. Unbelievable.

“Finals are like this. You expect to play well like always. The emotions are there, the nerves are there, but the lads, we compete until the end. Some of these guys are 20, 21, 22, some of them their first final. It’s normal, but we compete like animals. It wasn’t easy. What a team we faced, unbelievable they way they defend, the way they counterattack.”

Ilkay Gündogan lifted the trophy after doing the same with the FA Cup and Premier League. “Unbelievable,” the captain said. “Difficult to put in words. Today we made history. It was difficult for both teams. We weren’t at our best in the first half. We were hesitating. We knew we had to do better in the second. It was probably a 50-50 game. We feel very fortunate it was for us.