Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City have already achieved their aims by being contenders in every competition, insisting he was not brought to the Etihad Stadium to win the Champions League.
City’s wait for European football’s top club prize will go on after they lost 6-5 on aggregate to Real Madrid following an incredible semi-final collapse.
But in a lengthy response to a question about his players’ chances of ever winning the competition ahead of Sunday’s Premier League game against Newcastle United, Guardiola explained how the club view success differently from “the people” on the outside.
“I don’t know [if this team can win it],” he said. “It’s a question I cannot answer. Before Madrid, I did not know if we were able to win it.
“I don’t have an answer to all your questions. Football is incredibly unpredictable – we saw it.
“This is my feeling, maybe I’m wrong: Abu Dhabi didn’t buy this club and invest in these incredible facilities, invest in players, like a lot of other clubs in the world, to be what we lived the last years.
“It’s not to win just the Champions League. They did it to be there in all competitions, in every season, compete, compete, compete until the end.
“In the Champions League, we want to do it – maybe I’m not good enough, nobody knows what happens with another manager – but we want to be there as much as possible in all competitions. For us, it’s an honour.
“There are people who I know didn’t appreciate what this club is doing. Maybe it’s not enough, but for me it’s incredible, remarkable.
“Being in the semi-finals of the Champions League again, after last season, making steps to be there and compete against an outstanding team in this competition, the way we did it, home and away…
“We were close – not close enough, because the team who wins deserves it – but we were there. This is my feeling.
“It always depends on winning the Champions League, winning the Champions League, winning the Premier League, winning the Premier League – nothing about what we have done since the takeover one decade ago, with all the players that went before, the managers that went before – it doesn’t make sense.
“We will try again next season; it will be difficult, because the teams are good. I know the people want to be in that way, I accept it from day one, I have to handle it, but it’s not a problem for me.
“It’s not about that; it’s about in the Premier League again being there, in the FA Cup semi-finals again, in the Champions League semi-finals, this season it could not happen but even the Carabao Cup four times in a row.
“This is where the club want to be. That’s why they ask me to come here, for that.
“They never ask me to win any one title. They never ask me anything, the club, if anything just to play as good as possible and compete with all the teams in England and all the teams in Europe we have to play. It’s completely opposite to what people think about it.
“I’m not saying it’s fair or not fair; I’m not saying that.
“People say if they this group of players or this manager doesn’t win a title, they’re failures. I accept it, but I completely disagree, completely. We know how difficult it is, but I accept it.
“I’m not going to make it a thing where I am right and you’re wrong. You can do whatever, say whatever, but as a club, the feeling that we have, it’s to try to do it.
“We are sad, of course we are sad – we were close. The players wanted to play the final. But for this club to compete with Real Madrid the way that we did was a joy.
“How close we were, wow, but we could not do it, okay. I say congratulations to Liverpool and Real Madrid; if they are in the final, they deserve to be in the final.
“It’s important that next season we are going to try; if it doesn’t work, we are going to try again; if it doesn’t work, we are going to try again.
“And in the Premier League, the Carabao Cup next season, we want to go further than we were this season.
“This is when we became a club, you know, a club where this club is great, it’s good. Look at all the big clubs in Europe, who every year are there, are there, are there; in the last years, we are there.
“Sometimes it’s not possible. Sometimes you put in everything and you do not achieve it. What is the problem?
“Okay, we did not achieve it. The next day, you try to do it; in the good moments, take credit; in the bad moments, more sad than usual. The next day, you try to do it. The club is good for this.”
Guardiola insisted he “cannot live” for European glory alone – and suggested City would be criticised even if they did win the Champions League.
Asked if the defeat gave him added hunger, he replied: “No, always I am starving.
“I know the people outside here demand Champions League, Champions League, Champions League, we know it, but I cannot live [just for that].
“The moment we win the Champions League, they’ll say look at the money we spent. If not, they spent all that money and didn’t win the Champions League. We are the only club in the world in the last 10, 15, 20 years who spent money.”