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The Man City Project Won’t Be A Success Without A Champions League Win

Shaun Cronin for Bookies.com

Shaun Cronin  | 4 mins

The Man City Project Won’t Be A Success Without A Champions League Win

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Cast your mind back to May 2012, as an ecstatic Roberto Di Matteo embraced his owner as he climbed the steps of the Allianz Arena in Munich.

Considering the amount of money he pumped into the club and the fact Di Matteo had only been in caretaker charge for two months, Roman Abramovich probably didn’t appreciate his manager screaming “I won it” at him.

However, after securing a victory that betting apps didn’t fancy them for, nothing was going to wipe the smile off Abramovich’s face that night. That’s because he’d just seen a project he’d started all the way back in June 2003 finally come to fruition.

Chelsea won their first league title in 50 years in that nine-year period and two more Premier League crowns followed. They were also supplemented by four FA Cups, two League Cups and a couple of Community Shields for good measure.

But, everyone knew it was the Champions League that Abramovich wanted the most and 10 years later that is ironically the position that the Premier League’s next super-rich club to follow Chelsea, Manchester City, find themselves in now.

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The Champions League Remains A Huge Gap In City’s Trophy Cabinet

Before we look at Man City’s case, it’s important to acknowledge the opposition to ownership models such as the one they, Chelsea and now Newcastle operate under.

Accusations of sportswashing by state/oligarch-owned clubs do need to be taken seriously, even though Abramovich is now on his way out owing to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

However, those issues deserve to be fleshed out properly, and are not the focus of this piece.

From a purely sporting point of view, it’s been clear since Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan took ownership of Manchester City in 2008 and then subsequently appointed former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola as manager in 2016 that winning the Champions League has been the primary focus of everyone at the club.

In the time since his takeover, Sheikh Mansour has only seen Man City make the final of Europe’s premier club competition once - falling to Chelsea unexpectedly last season - and it must be galling to him to have seen Chelsea and Liverpool win the Champions League on three occasions between them in that intervening time.

Squad wise and in the manager’s chair they are almost untouchable domestically (even if Liverpool are making a hell of a go of it) when it comes to honours in the last six or so years. But, we all know it is the Champions League they crave most of all.

Andrew Cole played for City for a season in the mid-00s, and he reckons City have a strong chance of finally snaring honours in Europe this season.

“The Champions League has eluded Manchester City over the last few years,” Cole said.

“They have a tough game in this year's semi-final with Real Madrid. Could it be the season they finally do it? It could well be.

“When you try to win the European Cup, you need a little bit of luck to go your way.”

Champions League Is All That Is Missing For Pep

Pep Guardiola won the Champions League twice during his spell in charge of his boyhood club Barcelona. However, he has failed to replicate that feat since at Bayern Munich and now Manchester City.

He has won three league titles and seven other domestic trophies during his tenure in England. His City outfit are also favourites to claim the Premier League this term.

However, Guardiola can only be considered among the best managers in the history of the game if he achieves European success while he’s in charge at the Etihad Stadium according to Cole.

“Yes, I would believe that Pep Guardiola has to win the Champions League to achieve that status,” Cole said when asked if the City boss needed another victory in the competition to be thought of as a great.

“Pep Guardiola is such a brilliant manager with what he has achieved in the game and by all accounts, he’s a fantastic manager to work for.

As for how the semi-final with 13-time winners Real Madrid will go, Cole was keen to steer the conversation to team performance rather than some of the individual star players involved.

“It's not a case of man for man when you look at the squads,” the 1999 Champions League winner explained.

“It's how they perform as a team out on the pitch. Especially, with what Real Madrid have done this season.

“I don't believe anyone expected Madrid to get to the semis, but they pulled it out. All these clubs want the same thing. It should be a really good tie though.”

You can back Manchester City at 7/5 with Unibet to win the Champions League.

About the Author

Shaun Cronin for Bookies.com
Shaun Cronin
Having previously spent time at Paddy Power, Landmark Digital and Red FM, Shaun has amassed experience in both journalism and sports betting industries. He has also been featured in the Irish Examiner, Evening Echo and breakingnews.ie. You'll find his interviews and stories here at Bookies.com.