Earlier this month, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola made headlines when he appeared to claim ‘everyone’ in England who wasn’t a City fan was backing Liverpool to win the Premier League title.
Now ahead of the final game of the 2021-22 season in his press conference ahead of ex-Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s clash with Aston Villa, Guardiola has sought to clarify his comments, suggesting he may have -may have been misunderstood or that he may have formulated his arguments imprecisely, as he was not speaking in his native language.
“I’m sure my English isn’t good after four, five years,” he noted. “I said by the time you come in for titles, teams with more history have more fans.
“It happens in Spain, in Germany, in Italy. We are outsiders in the last decade. Liverpool fans want to win, and I’m not saying the whole country is a fan of Liverpool, but in general it’s a team with more titles.
“In countries all over the world there are teams that people support more than others. Liverpool, United, Arsenal have a lot of history, we are new. That’s why we feel it’s a privilege and we will not waste this opportunity to enjoy the 95 minutes.”
The important takeaways from this review, then, are that Guardiola seems to be saying that Liverpool have more fans because they have won more titles, while Manchester City are “new”, the new one presumably speaking to them being new only to contesting titles after the influx of money that preceded his move to join the club.
Going by his logic, therefore, City are still building their global fan base, which comes from the fact that they only recently became competitive and won titles in a much shorter period compared to the Reds.
While on the surface this may not be an unfair proposition, then one wonders why in his initial statement he noted that while Liverpool had been strong in Europe – winning six European Cups since their first in 1976/ 77 – the Reds haven’t been particularly strong domestically. in the Premier League era, noting “in the Premier League they’ve won one in 30 years”.
Although that is a factual statement, it now seems a bit like Guardiola wants to play it both ways, complaining that City lack a strong fanbase as they haven’t won as much as Liverpool all talking about the fact that at least in England, City have collected more silverware than the Reds in the Premier League era.
Nor is that same distinction made to separate the European Cup and the Champions League, a competition which was also rebranded in 1992. After all, by that same metric, it would have to be said that Liverpool only won the two Champions Leagues only in 30 years. Maybe he will have to explain the different standard in more detail at some point.
Anyway, as requested, we can only do our best to give Pep Guardiola the benefit of the doubt and support his claim that Liverpool have more fans due to their dominance in several competitions over the course of a long history compared to the “new” Manchester City.
He certainly knows what he’s talking about: when he mentions the other countries that have the same fanbase patterns, he speaks from direct experience as a former manager of massive Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Presumably, he can draw on those experiences to discuss what it’s like to manage a ‘new’ or ‘underdog’ club like Manchester City.