Manchester City coach Mikel Arteta has explained why his side didn’t win the UEFA Champions League.
It’s been a few weeks since Liverpool lifted the UEFA Champions League trophy in Madrid. The Reds followed up on their Premier League title disappointment with success on the European stage. Star man Mohamed Salah put them into an early lead with Divock Origi adding a second late on. The 2-0 win over fellow English side Tottenham Hotspur was their sixth title in the competition.
It left Manchester City fans with a bitter taste in their mouths. City may have topped the Premier League table and lifted three other trophies during the season but there is a level of hollowness. This felt like a missed opportunity for Pep Guardiola’s men, especially after their quarter-final exit.
The controversial defeat to Tottenham Hotspur was a difficult one to get over for City. Their Premier League form may not have suffered but the atmosphere certainly did. Guardiola’s men continued to win their matches and lifted the Premier League and FA Cup for a remarkable trophy haul. But now that the dust has settled on the season, it’s time to investigate what went wrong and where. This is something which assistant manager Mikel Arteta seems to have already begun.
"We have not had the proper regularity. We have made too many mistakes,” Arteta admitted when asked by Marca.
“The Champions League is being reduced lately to the areas: do not make mistakes in yours and be forceful in the rival.
"If not, it is impossible to win it, because the opponent penalises you. If you give away two goals and a quarter penalty, you're out."
City found that out the hard way. The quarter-final defeat to Tottenham was painful but Arteta had particular praise for the eventual winners. The 2-1 win over the Reds was City’s only victory in the last six meetings between the two clubs. That record will need to change if Pep Guardiola’s men are to come out on top again next season.
"In my playing career, Anfield is the only field in which I had the feeling of ‘pájara’, of staying stuck,” Arteta continued.
"You say: ‘I do not know what’s going on, stop the game, please, because I do not know where I am’.
"The stands push a lot, the intensity they put in the field... It’s hard to explain, but it never happened to me anywhere other than Anfield.
"Barça surprised me by the form of some goals, but in Anfield you can concede five without knowing. Neither in Spain nor in Greece or Germany did I have that feeling. Not even in Old Trafford."
City’s record at against Liverpool is certainly troubling. Guardiola’s side missed out in the UEFA Champions League and won the Premier League by just one point. The Reds will surely improve over the coming months and have already been linked with a number of excellent signings. The likes of Timo Werner and Nabil Fekir have been cited as potential signings for them. Both players would seriously improve their attack.
Man City, meanwhile are having some trouble in the market. The transfer saga surrounding Leroy Sane and his potential move to Bayern Munich continues to hang over the Etihad. City are reportedly confident of keeping the winger who scored 16 goals in all competitions last season. Bayern would have to pay upwards of £100 million to attract him back to Germany.
But there is some growing talk of potential incomings. The transfer of full-back Joao Cancelo is said to be moving along nicely with Danilo heading towards the exit door. João Félix is the man seemingly every club in Europe wants. The 19-year-old has been a revelation for Benfica and is reportedly interested in the idea of being trained by Guardiola. He’d represent a different – but an ultimately exciting replacement for Sane.
It’s clear that City will need to improve in the transfer market. There are some different areas which need to be looked at in the City squad. But there is also increased competition. Liverpool will strengthen once again, while the Spanish sides have both improved and will make for better competition in Europe. The Champions League is the one everyone at the Etihad wants. They are the 5/1 favourites to lift the crown next year on Betway as of 14 June but that is by no means certain.
There’s an expectation that City and Liverpool will be the two main sides in England again next season. Both clubs will surely strengthen over the summer and will have their own goals. City will be aiming for that first UEFA Champions League title while the Reds want their first Premier League. Pep Guardiola’s side won four trophies this season and will be hoping to make five next time.