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Pep Guardiola ‘closer to leaving than staying’ at Manchester City after fourth consecutive Premier League title win

<i>Visionhaus/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Pep Guardiola has said that he is ‘closer to leaving that staying' at Manchester City after the club won its fourth straight Premier League title on May 19.
Visionhaus/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Pep Guardiola has said that he is ‘closer to leaving that staying' at Manchester City after the club won its fourth straight Premier League title on May 19.

By Ben Morse, CNN

(CNN) — In the last 15 years, there has been no manager more influential than Pep Guardiola.

First he moulded the great Barcelona team of the late noughties and early 2010s, a side spearheaded by Lionel Messi and which played the ‘tiki-taka’ style now familiar around the world.

He had a similar effect at Bayern Munich, winning three titles in his three seasons with the German giant.

Latterly, Guardiola has cast his spell over the English Premier League – an institution famed for its unpredictably. His Manchester City teams have dominated the league with six titles in seven seasons, claiming a fourth in a row on Sunday.

City is the first team to win four consecutive Premier League titles and such a feat vaults this iteration into the pantheon of greatest soccer teams ever.

However, Guardiola suggested after his team’s title victory that it could be part of his closing act in Manchester.

“The reality is I’m closer to leaving than to staying,” Guardiola told Sky Sports. “It’s eight years, will be nine. Right now my feeling is I want to stay next season.

In elite football management it’s rare for a manager to stay in charge of a team for so long given the pressures of the job.

“We talked with the club, we have time to talk next season because I have to see the players as well, if they follow me, they follow us. I want to stay next season,” added Guardiola.

‘Second to none’

Historically these last 15 years have been extraordinary for Manchester City fans.

Often associated with living in the shadow of its crosstown rival United, consistently challenging for league titles has been very much out of City’s oeuvre.

A financial injection from the club’s new Abu Dhabi-based owners in 2008 transformed the club. It took a remarkable finish to the 2011-12 season for City to win its first Premier League title – Sergio Agüero’s last-minute goal has gone down in history as one of the most dramatic endings to a season.

But it was Guardiola’s arrival in 2016 which truly transformed the club into serial winners.

After conquering the domestic leagues, the final hurdle was continental glory and in 2023 City won a first European Cup final to become only the second English club to complete the ‘Treble’ as Champions League, FA Cup and Premier League winners.

The Spaniard made winning a habit for City, and proceeded to erode the final few mental hoodoos around the club with his winning mentality.

Sunday’s title – which City won by finishing two points ahead of Guardiola’s disciple, Mikel Arteta, and Arsenal – reiterated the team’s dominance.

Whether it be Erling Haaland’s goalscoring prowess, Joško Gvardiol’s reinvention from center-back to attacking left-back or Phil Foden’s Player of the Season-winning campaign, Guardiola has once again proved why he’s at the forefront of his profession.

However, City’s dominance comes against the backdrop of the Premier League accusing the club in February 2023 of breaching more than 100 financial rules, which includes failing to provide accurate financial information, failing to comply with UEFA’s financial fair play (FFP) regulations, and failing to follow Premier League rules on profit and sustainability.

The league referred City to an independent commission. The club has continuously denied any wrongdoing and a conclusion to their case reportedly remains some time away.

‘I have a contract’

Departing West Ham manager David Moyes, whose side was defeated by City on the final day of the season, said Guardiola is “second to none.”

“There used to be an argument that clubs couldn’t win the title back-to-back,” he told Sky Sports. “He has blown that sky-high. Four in a row is incredible.

“Everyone in football is in awe of his coaching but there is more to it than that. He is a really good man-manager and has the ability to control players. Either that or he has some hairdryer because he has got them on a string because they won’t step out of place.”

City has the opportunity to cap off another memorable season with yet more silverware in the form of the FA Cup. Guardiola’s team faces rival United in the final on Saturday.

While Guardiola and winning have become synonymous, the 53-year-old admits it does come with its motivational setbacks.

“I had that feeling last season [after we won the treble],” he said in his press conference following Sunday’s title victory. “We were in Istanbul and I said: ‘It’s over. What am I doing here? There is nothing left.’ But I have a contract. I am here and I am still enjoying some of the moments, sometimes tired but some of them I love.

“And after a few days, we start playing good, winning games, different players, and we start to think about how no one has done four in a row. Why not try it? Now, I am feeling it is done. What next? I don’t know, right now. Well, I know it is FA Cup.”

So what’s next for City and Guardiola?

“But, next season, right now, I am not able to know what will be the motivation to do it. It is difficult sometimes to find it when everything is done.

“But I know that the players and myself will be there and think, why shouldn’t we win today? Why not? Why should we not work as much as possible to do what we have to do?”

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