It’s been quite a while since Pep Guardiola last won the Champions League. Eight years, in fact.
The Spaniard was unable to deliver the European Cup during his three seasons at Bayern Munich.
And while the domestic trophies have poured in at Manchester City, the Etihad Stadium club have never gone further than the Champions League quarter-finals during Guardiola’s reign.
Guardiola was brought to Manchester to turn City into European behemoths and, so far, he hasn’t been able to do that.
That’s despite inheriting a talented squad and an enviable budget to strengthen it.
Does this take away from what Guardiola has achieved at the club?
It shouldn’t do. He’s won back-to-back Premier League titles – collecting 100 points in 2017/18 and two fewer last season – and has created a squad that, at its best, is unstoppable.
Aluko: Pep needs a CL win
But according to Eni Aluko, Guardiola cannot be considered an all-time great manager until he brings the Champions League trophy to the Etihad.
The Juventus striker believes that Guardiola’s “repeated failures” in Europe are hurting his reputation, and compared his fortunes to Jurgen Klopp’s at Liverpool.
“Guardiola has never got to a European final without Lionel Messi, whereas Klopp has won one with Divock Origi,” Aluko wrote in her column for The Guardian.
“Guardiola’s Barcelona side won the treble of La Liga, Copa del Rey and Champions League in 2008-09, something no other manager had done, but Luis Enrique repeated the feat in 2014-15 and nobody has him down as one of the all-time greats.
“Jose Mourinho won the Champions League with Porto and Internazionale and eight league titles in four countries, yet he seems to be disregarded as an old‑school manager with outdated ideas.”
Aluko, 32, added: “Guardiola’s achievements put him in the highest level of European management but though his Barcelona team probably have to be counted among the greatest in the sport’s history in my opinion the title of genius has been given to him too quickly, particularly when there is another manager in the same league at the same time who has perhaps overtaken him in terms of his effect on his club and his achievements with them.
“Some people seem to think Klopp is first and foremost a motivator, whose teams are reliant on energy, power and pace, where Guardiola is a tactician.
“I think this is a completely unfair way of characterising what the German has created at Anfield.
“A lot of money has been spent in the transfer market but in a strategic and deliberate way, forming a front three who rival any attack in world football, bringing in probably the best defender on the planet in Virgil van Dijk and at the same time promoting young talent and making the most of undervalued players from other English clubs such as Andy Robertson and James Milner.
“He is also extremely consistent in tactics and team selection, where Guardiola is sometimes guilty of overthinking, both tactically and in the transfer market, signing incredibly expensive substitute full-backs and tweaking his formations, particularly in big games.”
Aluko also believes Guardiola has never been tested.
“Guardiola… took over Barcelona when they had won the league in two of the previous four seasons, Bayern Munich when they were reigning champions, and Manchester City when they had been champions in two of the five previous seasons and had unrivalled spending power,” she added.
Get your tin hat on, Eli. Guardiola’s fans will be coming for you.