First Time In Over A Decade – I Defend Our Hierarchy by Dan Smith
This is hard for me as I respect Pep Guardiola. He came along when Jose Mourinho and Rafa Benitez were turning the sport into a game of chess.
He was a beauty who beat the beast, teaching us you could be a serial winner while playing football the right way. Yes, he was obsessed with collecting trophies but not at the sake of his values or ethos.
Sir Alex Ferguson once claimed that the true test of a manager isn’t when he’s victorious but how he responds to adversity.
Man City have been respectful of surrendering their title having had a while to process the reality. Clearly, they were relying on their dominance in the domestic cups to continue, as a consolation. By losing on Saturday suddenly it’s ‘win the Champions League or it’s a poor campaign’ by their high standards.
He’s escaped much criticism because his team can be a joy to watch, but he will know the investment at the Etihad means finishing 15 (as I write this) points behind 1st was not expected back in August. He might have been complacent in assuming his worst-case scenario was a cup double.
Because how has he reacted since the weekend?
He’s claimed to not respect our hierarchy. If he made the comments pre-match maybe his words would have credibility but doing it post-match comes across as sour grapes? Would he have brought this up If he had won at Wembley?
Guardiola told Marca: “The opponents always deserve my respect and credit, and Arsenal, they have it,”
“I have all the respect for what Arsenal are on the pitch – not much off the pitch, but on the pitch a lot.
“So I congratulate them and good luck against Chelsea in the final.”
Readers will testify I’m not someone who defends my club just because I’m a Gooner. If this was being aimed at Stan Kroenke I would agree, indeed we are well known at being laughed at by agents for how we negotiate and haggle over every last penny.
To be fair to the Spaniard he didn’t detail specifically how the Gunners have offended him so much, so we are left with theories from the media.
It’s well known that City felt we could have communicated with them when we played them in December, as just hours later, we were having secret meetings with Arteta.
They might have a point, yet given that they had already told their assistant coach they wouldn’t prevent him from leaving, it’s hard to believe that Pep would hold a grudge based on that.
It’s more likely that he feels let down by a group of clubs who he feels put pressure on the Court of Arbitration to block attempts for City’s UEFA ban appeal to be delayed. Etihad officials have long had suspicions that Arsenal may have been the ring leaders in convincing seven other clubs to put pressure on authorities to make the Citizen’s case as complicated as possible.
It’s worth pointing out that Pep always has spoken highly of us, so any grievance towards North London would be recent and he was outspoken last week when his club were reinstated into next season’s Champions League, asking apologies from other managers and owners. Yet if that’s what we are guilty for I will stick up for us for once.
Football is no different to any other business, it’s about making as much money as possible.
If a rival’s punishment happened to benefit us by freeing up a European spot it’s only natural that we would pay lawyers to make sure everything is above board ,to give us the best possible chance of qualifying for the Champions League or Europa League. City would have done the exact same if the roles were reversed.
Having been in the game so long as a player then a coach, Pep is naive to think rivals run by millionaires wouldn’t be checking to see if they could benefit from the then Champions being banned.
It’s worth reminding Pep, his employers were guilty of breaking rules. UEFA decided they had breached FFP rules and CAS agreed. That’s not Arsenal or Liverpool or Chelsea’s fault. We didn’t invent some lie and whispered about it with our peers. We had nothing to do with misleading information about their accounts.
If they hadn’t done anything wrong, they wouldn’t give others a reason to say anything. I’m a huge fan of Pep but with all the sniping he’s been doing since they were ‘only fined’ seems to have confused him. If you’re fined 10 million that means you’re guilty yet he’s acting like it proves his side’s innocence.
For anyone else that’s a sum of money that would make you think your crime was serious. Just because you can afford it doesn’t mean you should shrug it off and it shows how serious City have taken their punishment.
Arsenal haven’t publicly given any opinion on our thoughts, yet his City broke the rules and have to pay millions now and their boss wants us to apologize?
I don’t say this much but our hierarchy have nothing to reproach themselves about …. for once.