In the past two days I’ve felt amazed about two things that appear to be annoying the British press and some Man City fans.
“We don’t have the history with this shirt, of Barcelona, Juventus, [Bayern] Munich or Manchester United. Not their titles. It’s about being in Europe and over the next decade to be there [in the Champions League] every year. That’s more important to this club than winning one title, believe me, more than that”, Pep said in one interview with NBC.
“At the moment his challenge is Manchester City who are a team like Villarreal in La Liga, for example, a team which is not one of the top sides,” said Lu Marti, who co-authored a book with Guardiola and remains a favourite of the Catalan coach.
Both quotes are the same, with the same meaning. I totally understand where Pep is coming from, but speaking to some English people yesterday I realised that there is a cultural barrier.
I’m a Brazilian. Me and Pep Guardiola have “sangue Latino”. Latin blood. We share the same values in every aspect of our life, including football.
When Pep says it will take one decade for Man City to get to the same level as the big clubs in Europe he is not trying to devalue the club, but express what he feels. Is not about money, infrastructure, signing the best players. None of this matters.
We Latinos believe in something called heavy football shirts, tradition. For us, some teams are more likely to win certain competitions because of the heavy shirt. These teams don’t feel the pressure because they are used to playing in this environment. These teams got more respect from the federations, referees, opponents and especially other players.
When Man City played against Barça a few years back, Dani Alves wasn’t afraid of us, nor most of his team mates. Because they are Barcelona. They know what the Champions League is.
A lot of people criticised Man City against Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals last season. The team were passive, without desire or passion. Everybody said the same. But this happens when you don’t have a heavy shirt. There can be a mental block. The City players looked at the other team and saw the Great Real Madrid, the biggest team in the history of the competition. Real didn’t play well all through the Champions League, but they won. Tradition.
Do you guys remember the Champions League final in 2013/14 between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid? Sergio Ramos scored in the 93rd minute to take the game to extra time and los blancos won 4-1. That wasn’t lucky. It was Real Madrid’s heavy shirt and Atletico Madrid’s inexperience playing in those games. This is what Latinos, like Pep Guardiola, believe.
What Pep Guardiola is saying is that Man City need to play in the Champions League and get in the last stages more times to understand the competition, to create a hard skin, to get experience and for the other clubs to respect us.
If you talk with Catalans they will tell you that before Guardiola came to Barca they wasn’t so strong and confident in the Champions League. Everything changed after him. It’s still the same mentality until today. Even though he is not there anymore.
Before Chelsea won the Champions League, they played a lot of semi-finals, even the final. That’s what Pep is talking about. They do not yet have great tradition or heavy shirts, but they know where they are going. It’s not a new path for them.
Pep Guardiola is also trying to take the pressure off Man City and the shoulders of the players, because everybody – the club, us fans, Pep himself – need to win the Champions League. And Guardiola knows what happened at Bayern.
Another thing about us Latinos is the passion. We are hot blooded. The love comes out from our veins. We love to feel loved. We love to give love. People call us the best lovers.
And Pep Guardiola is not feeling this at moment at Etihad Stadium. I’m a seasoncard holder, so I know what I’m saying. The stadium is so, so cold. It doesn’t have any atmosphere.
The English fans don’t understand how important the crowd is. We call it “décimo segundo jogador.” – The Twelfth Player. I know you have this phrase too but maybe for us we feel the crowd can win games. They can put pressure on the opposition, make them fear us, make them play badly and, more than anything, push the team to victory.
Guardiola is not feeling this at the moment at the Etihad. The crown is not behind the team. The fans are not giving love to him and to the players.
Don’t forget Pep is coming from Germany, where the fans sing all game. They make noise. They make their stadiums a real cauldron.
I understand the English culture. I understand atmosphere is a problem in all English football. But we can do better. C’mon. I see people making fun of the Palace Ultras. At least they are trying. The City fans can make the Etihad Stadium a fortress if they want. A stadium where people fear to come. People hate to play at La Bombonera because they know what they will get there.
He don’t want us jumping and singing like the Germans or Argentinians. But Pep wants the fans to help the team. Guardiola said on his presentation at the CFA that without Man City fans he can’t achieve anything.
So basically this how Pep feels. If he thinks Man City are Villarreal, he is not denigrating the club. It’s about history. He is not talking about us right now, but the past. It is true. And, Yeah, for Latinos history means a lot. Just look at the fuss Real Madrid made with “Lá Décima”. Read Pep Confidential and you’ll see Pep talking about his admiration of United’s history.
But never, never forget. Even though Guardiola thinks Man City don’t have a rich history he still came to the club. He could have got to any club in the world. But he chose Man City. He put his name, his prestige, on the line. Because he wants to test himself here. Because he wants to create our own history, our tradition, our legacy and our heavy shirt.