UEFA has failed! Guardiola lambasts governing body as City exit Super League fiasco

By Sports Desk April 20, 2021

Pep Guardiola told UEFA to face up to its own failure after the European Super League project left football on the brink of disaster.

Manchester City were the first club to confirm their withdrawal from the ill-conceived breakaway project on Tuesday, less than 48 hours after the announcement of the tournament provoked widespread fury.

Players, coaches, rival clubs, national federations, FIFA, UEFA and national governments lined up to condemn the closed-shop format of the competition, where the Premier League's 'big six' were set to be founder members alongside Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Juventus, Inter and Milan.

Chelsea had also reportedly reached a decision to leave by the time City issued a brief, one-paragraph statement to confirm they would step away, with Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Tottenham all doing likewise in a flurry of late-night activity in England.

After City's announcement, UEFA issued a release from its president Aleksander Ceferin, praising the Premier League leaders for showing "great intelligence" and "courage" for admitting to their mistake.

In remarks made before those pleasantries, Guardiola was far less complimentary about European football's governing body.

"UEFA has to know: if this [Super League] has happened, it's because it's too late," he said.

"Something will happen. Always they fail. UEFA fails.

"Some important clubs have created this important situation. Why? Why? Tell me why?"

City clashed with UEFA over recent years, culminating in a two-year ban from the organisation's competitions for contravening Financial Fair Play (FFP) rules that was subsequently quashed on appeal at the Court of Arbitration for Sport last July.

But Guardiola's ire appeared to be focused upon the drive to squeeze more matches out of top clubs – an element the newly expanded Champions League format has in common with the now doomed Super League.

The Premier League, another organisation to have emerged with significant credit over a tumultuous couple of days, were also in his crosshairs.

"We spoke at the beginning of the season, about how many games there were. We spoke about the Premier League and the clubs – not the players – and instead of reducing the competition, we played more," he said.

"You think it's normal that all the clubs fight for 10 months, when they have spent a huge amount of money for these players and staff, to put the players out for three games [a week]? And then injuries and their seasons are over.

"What is the problem for UEFA? Zero. 'Why don't you finish the season, play for the national teams, play the European Championship? Why not?'.

"They don’t care. They play for their own business."

Greed has been an accusation understandably thrown at City and the other clubs to have dabbled with the Super League project and this was not something Guardiola disputed.

Indeed, ahead of his team's packed schedule continuing at Aston Villa on Wednesday, he stated the aims of the boardroom being realised have already been to the detriment of his players.

"Of course it's getting worse, but who cares? It's business, it's money. Just for this six [Premier League] teams? No, no. For everyone," he added.

"FIFA as well. The World Cup: we started with 16 and it went up and up and we're going to play with 50 countries. Ah, but it's okay. UEFA? More games.

"And the clubs. Do they listen to what the managers or the footballers said? When the season finished, we have two-three weeks off and then start again, start again. You demand.

"What about the problems about injuries? Absolutely nothing. Pick another player. The show must go on.

"Then maybe they think of something that maybe they don't like, then they react."

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    Manchester United's rescheduled Premier League clash with Liverpool is set to go ahead on time after renewed fan protests were effectively controlled.

    The sides' original meeting on Sunday, May 2 was called off after supporters broke into Old Trafford and stormed the pitch as part of protests against United's ownership.

    Several police officers were injured during the ensuing clashes, which forced the postponement of the game on safety grounds.

    However, the rearranged fixture looks likely to go ahead after United, along with local police, took steps to prepare for fresh protests taking place on Thursday evening.

    Barriers were erected around Old Trafford to prevent fans from entering, while the United players arrived individually by car earlier in the day before taking a pre-match nap at the stadium.

    Liverpool, meanwhile, sent a decoy coach that was momentarily blocked by a group of fans, but ultimately arrived at a side of the ground clear of supporters and without issue.

    As such, it is currently expected that the game will kick off on time (8.15pm GMT).

    United's American owners have been the target of renewed ire from fans in the aftermath of failed plans to join a breakaway Super League alongside the Premier League's 'big six'.

    Consequently, United legend Roy Keane does not expect supporter anger at the Glazers to subside any time soon.

    He told Sky Sports: "Manchester United fans are not done with this, we saw some protests a few weeks ago, but I think there is still a lot to come. 

    "The concern is that when the fans can come back to the stadium, you could have 70,000 fans showing up at Old Trafford, frustrated with what happened. Things can get much worse."

    Keane's former United team-mate, Gary Neville, believes the ongoing protests are serving to damage the club's brand, which in turn should hurt the Glazers.

    He said: "Let's be clear, what we’ve seen on that forecourt before which is effectively Man United turned into a prison, it’s a devastating image for the Manchester United Football Club brand around the world, let's just note that. 

    "You have to put prison walls up around your ground and have hundreds and hundreds of police officers on a game where fans aren't attending, there is something that has gone badly wrong."

  • Guardiola thanks Liverpool boss Klopp for title text: He made me a better manager Guardiola thanks Liverpool boss Klopp for title text: He made me a better manager

    Pep Guardiola thanked Jurgen Klopp for his Premier League title text message after Manchester City succeeded Liverpool as champions, saying the Reds boss has pushed him to a new level.

    Klopp described rival Guardiola as "the best manager in the world" in a news conference on Wednesday, the day after City secured a third title in four seasons.

    The text from Klopp to Guardiola was not the only one sent from Merseyside, with Everton manager Carlo Ancelotti also sending his congratulations. 

    "I received a lot. He and Carlo Ancelotti have done it," said Guardiola.

    "I appreciate it a lot from both of them. I could not answer messages, not yet, but I will do it today."

    Speaking on Thursday, Guardiola offered a salute to the Liverpool and Everton bosses, both of whom have won Champions League and domestic titles in storied careers.

    The rise of Klopp has forced Guardiola to pull out all the stops to deliver success both at City and previously at Bayern Munich, when Klopp's Borussia Dortmund were such a force.

    "It was an inspiration for me. He has made me through his teams at Dortmund and Liverpool a better manager," Guardiola said.

    "I would say thank you so much, I appreciate it a lot from him and Carlo."

    Guardiola and City may have wrapped up the club's fifth title in 10 years, but they can still secure a host of achievements before turning their focus to the May 29 Champions League final against Chelsea.

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    City are also one short of matching the record for clean sheets achieved away from home across all competitions by a top-flight team in a single season. They have racked up 16 shut-outs so far, one short of the record jointly held by Liverpool (1975-76), Chelsea (2003-04) and Manchester United (2008-09).

    Their away form has been something remarkable, with City undefeated in their most recent 22 games on the road.

    That is already the longest such run by an English top-flight team, but City would also surpass the record for the top four tiers of the English game should they avoid defeat on Tyneside.

    Notts County also went 22 games unbeaten away from home between February and December 2012 while in League One.

  • Guardiola sorry for Gundogan as UEFA moves Champions League final to Porto Guardiola sorry for Gundogan as UEFA moves Champions League final to Porto

    Pep Guardiola wanted Manchester City to play the Champions League final in Istanbul for Ilkay Gundogan's sake but said the move to Porto was not a problem for the club.

    City manager Guardiola has led the team to a first final in Europe's premier club competition, and they will face Chelsea on May 29 for the trophy they crave.

    UEFA declared on Thursday that the game would move to Portugal, in the wake of Turkey being added to a travel 'red list' by the UK government due to COVID-19 concerns.

    With UK tourists set to be allowed to visit Portugal from May 17, without the need to quarantine at any stage of their journey, it means supporters will be able to take up the allocation of 6,000 tickets per club.

    "If UEFA decides that, we are going to go there," Guardiola said.

    "I had a pleasure to go to Istanbul, because since my career as a football player with Barcelona, I never had the opportunity again to go there. Not even ever in the Champions League."

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    "For Gundogan, for Ilkay, I wanted to go there," Guardiola added. "Unfortunately, UEFA decided to go to Portugal. No problem."

    Guardiola will hope Kevin De Bruyne is ready to play in the Champions League final, but the Belgian playmaker will miss Friday's Premier League game at Newcastle United due to a muscle injury.

    "He is still injured but he's getting better," Guardiola said in a news conference on Thursday.

    "When he is fit, he will come to training and the guys who are completely fit with 100 per cent mentally and physicality will have a chance to play in the final.

    "Before that we have three games to get information about how the team is and the players to play in the last game of the season."

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