Manchester City were in the hunt for the Quadruple. The Cityzens, still in a hotly contested Premier League title race with Liverpool, are now in the FA Cup Final and won the Carabao Cup back in February. The crown jewel, however, was always the Champions League. Pep Guardiola had tasted the victory of European’s highest honors with Barcelona, but the task to lead Manchester City to European glory was going to be a difficult undertaking. Yet, Tottenham Hotspur will have a spot in the Champions League Semi-Finals while Manchester City will be left to ponder what could have been. For all intents and purposes, the loss to Tottenham single-handedly turned the 2018/19 season into a failure for Pep Guardiola and City.
Manchester City suffered an equally bitter defeat last season against Liverpool in the Quarter-Finals. This season was supposed to be City’s year. Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, and Juventus have all crashed out of the tournament leaving Barcelona as the lone true heavyweight. All of the preparation beginning over the summer was to bring a Champions League trophy back to England for the first time since Chelsea’s victory in 2012.
Guardiola has fallen short of expectations in the Champions League since 2011 when he led the famous Barcelona side with Lionel Messi and Andrés Iniesta to a win at Wembley Stadium. He never found European success while in charge of Bayern Munich and for the second season in a row lost in the Quarter-Finals to a domestic rival. At least in this season, it is truly difficult to cast blame on Manchester City for their loss to Tottenham.
Mauricio Pochettino has put together a squad that is not made up of big budget signings. In fact, Tottenham were unable to bring in any new additions for a couple of transfer windows. Spur’s performance on Wednesday night was not down to a poor display by City, but rather the shear class from players such as Heung-min Son. Manchester City felt the jubilation of getting a last minute game winning goal from Raheem Sterling only to see it taken away by VAR.
Pep Guardiola as well as the City players are no doubt truly devastated as their emotions were on full display after the final whistle. From a neutral or Tottenham supporter’s perspective, last night’s match will go down as one of the best in Champions League history, but this fact would be of little consolation to Guardiola. Questions will continue to mount about Pep’s ability as a manager. His 2011 Barcelona team was resplendent with once-in-a-generation talent. Could Guardiola have accomplished his goal with any other team? While the statistics so far say no that does not mean it won’t be done.
There are six matches remaining in Manchester City’s season including the FA Cup Final against Watford. Pep Guardiola will have his shot at revenge against Spurs on Saturday and will follow that match with their rivals, Manchester United, in what will be two defining matches in the quest to retain the Premier League title. The task of bouncing back in a matter of days will be arduous. This season is a failure for Manchester City, but the reality of losing not only the Champions League and the Premier League in the same season would be far worse.