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Football Whispers

Guardiola 'big club' comments don't help his cause at Manchester City

Pep Guardiola was honest about his situation when he claimed he would have been sacked by Barcelona or Bayern Munich if he had the same season there as his debut campaign at Manchester City. 

But saying: "At a big club, I'm sacked," isn't helpful to his cause -- something he instantly realised at his news conference ahead of Tuesday's game with West Brom.

"You have the [headlines] for tomorrow in the newspaper, you are happy, eh?" he replied when asked to clarify what he said.

Guardiola's mission won't be complete until he transforms City into the sort of club that would get rid of him for underachieving. 

Since taking over at the Etihad last summer, Guardiola has spoken regularly about his desire to catch up with the European heavyweights, although his comments are often seized upon by critics who are ready to label City as a nouveau riche project and a club with no history.

The pressure of the job at Barca means they are set to appoint their fourth manager in five years since Guardiola quit the club, despite winning three La Liga titles and the Champions League in that time, although that does include Tito Vilanova, who was diagnosed with cancer during his brief spell in charge.

While at Bayern, fans held up a banner that read: "Pep war eh nie unser ding" -- Pep was never our thing -- shortly before he closed in on his third Bundesliga title in three years last season.

At City, Guardiola will finish a season without silverware for the first time in his managerial career yet there are very few rumblings among fans that he should be replaced at the end of the campaign.

Guardiola, 46, has suggested that the City supporters should be just as demanding.

"When you feel the pressure, the real pressure because you would be so criticised, the players make a step forward," he said after the 3-0 win over Southampton last month. 

"Here I miss a little bit [of] the pressure. In Spain, especially in Germany, the pressure is higher to the players, to the manager, to everybody -- here it is calm."

Guardiola's challenge at the Etihad is different to his previous two clubs. He has been hired to turn City into serial Premier League winners and regular challengers for the Champions League. They reached the Champions League semifinals for the first time ever last season but Europe's traditional heavyweights make it a regular occurrence. In the last decade, Barcelona and Real Madrid have been in the last four seven times, with Bayern reaching the semifinals just one time fewer.

This season has been the least successful of Pep Guardiola's career.

Guardiola knows it will take time to catch them up and insists they are a long way behind their rivals.

"We don't have the history with this shirt of Barcelona, Juventus, Munich or Manchester United, not their titles," he said in January. 

"It's about being in Europe [in the Champions League] and over the next decade to be there every year. That's more important to this club than winning one title, believe me, more than that."

After an incredible 10 wins from their opening 10 games, City's season has petered out as the Premier League challenge faltered in spring and Champions League hopes were ended by Monaco in March. That has led to suggestions that Guardiola is still struggling to get to grips with football in England.

City are set for another £200m reconstruction in the summer and the new season should be a better barometer of the progress the club is making. However, it could another decade before the Guardiola era could be judged a success if City are established among the European elite.

And whoever is in charge then will know they will get the sack if they fail to deliver after just one season.

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.


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