Pep Guardiola has confessed he did not believe Manchester City would establish such dominance over rivals Manchester United when he first joined the club back in 2016.
Guardiola agreed to take over at City ahead of the 2016/17 Premier League season, moving to England in the same summer as Jose Mourinho, who took charge of United.
Mourinho won three trophies in his first season – the Super Cup, League Cup and Europa League – but the shift in power has been emphatic in the years since, with Guardiola turning City into Premier League and European champions.
Indeed, City’s haul of four trophies since the start of last season is as many as United have won in the ten years since Sir Alex Ferguson’s departure, and Guardiola has now confessed he did not see this chasm coming.
“I know what we have done. I don’t know what Man Utd have done because I am not here,” he said after Sunday’s 3-0 win at Old Trafford. “But I didn’t expect it, honestly, when I arrived here with Jose Mourinho, with [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic, with top, top players, [Romelu] Lukaku…”
Asked for the secret to City’s success, Guardiola argued the club’s togetherness is the main factor – comments which have been interpreted by many as a huge dig to United and the divisive Glazer family in charge.
“I said many times, we are in the same direction, the chairman, the CEO, the sport director, the manager and the players,” Guardiola said. “We go there. Wrong or right, it doesn’t matter we go there.
“We make mistakes of course. When we lose or the situation is not going well we’re not here to blame someone. ‘It’s OK, we will have do better, what’s happening? The opponent is getting better, we’re getting worse, what do we have to do to find a solution?’ That is nice.
“That’s the way we’ve done it since day one. First season we didn’t win, I didn’t feel my chairman complain, absolutely not. He supported me unconditionally. I remember when we lost the final of the Champions League to Chelsea we were devastated, I was. And the chairman said ‘we are going to win it, sooner or later. What do we have to do next? Come on, let’s go’.
“The club rely on me, the players know I rely on them. When that happens we are not incredibly over-excited when we win and we lose it’s not dramatic. OK it’s a football game what do we have to do to get better? That’s why I think the club organisation is so stable.”