EPL

Ferguson still better than Guardiola, says James

By Sports Desk May 21, 2024

Former Manchester City goalkeeper David James hails Pep Guardiola for "doing remarkable things" but believes he is still not at Alex Ferguson’s level.

City became the first team in Premier League history to win four consecutive titles with their 3-1 win over West Ham on Sunday, pipping Arsenal to the crown by two points.

Manchester United had previously won three consecutive Premier League seasons, achieving the feat twice under Ferguson (1998-2001 and 2006-2009).

Guardiola’s side can create more history on Saturday as they aim to clinch unprecedented back-to-back league and FA Cup doubles against the Red Devils.

Asked if this achievement put Guardiola’s name alongside Ferguson’s as the best Premier League manager, James, who spent two years with City, disagreed.

"No, Fergie's still the best. Look at statistics and longevity," James told Stats Perform. "And even more so, since Fergie left, what's happened to Manchester United.

"You can't even blame or use the excuse he had a good team and did well with it, Fergie rode the waves, he was up and down and even these downs weren't particularly bad.

"I think third or fourth was probably the worst they ever did; Fergie was the best and Pep will have to hang around for another decade, I think, before he can actually challenge that position.

"But what we're seeing at the moment, you've got a different style of football, a different type of game in so many different ways. The way the league is constructed at the moment with other competitions around it, Pep is having to do different things to what Fergie may have had to do.

"I know Fergie was a great manager, but not necessarily the greatest coach. Pep is a great manager and a great coach. He's also got an extra string to his bow in that sense.

"To be the winner of that league four years in a row, you need to be a superb manager. And I think Pep, in this short time frame, is doing some remarkable things, but he's going to have to hang around for a lot longer to take Ferguson's crown."

Following their victory over West Ham, Guardiola stated that he was "closer to leaving than staying", raising speculation that next season could be his last.

"I think the big question for Pep, and it is logical that he will now become the focus given that Jurgen Klopp announced his departure a few months ago, and all of a sudden it was nothing, but Jurgen and he will be the next focus," James added.

"I think the thing for Pep is, what does he want to do as a person? And it's not that he's completed the treble and that's enough because I think that he would want to do a treble treble, you want to do a quadruple.

"I can see that competitive side in him, he doesn't seem to change on the sidelines. Even yesterday, when they conceded the goal, and it was a fantastic goal from Kudus, he wasn't happy.

"I think you can still see that he's still animated, still engaged with the game. There's no question that he's feeling tired in that sense.

"I would like him to stay. I would like him to stay because I think when you've got someone so good, you need someone to beat them legitimately rather than them just step away and allow everyone else to play.

"I think he should stay. And I'm sure City will do everything they can to keep him in charge for the foreseeable future."

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