What a trophyless season would mean for Pep Guardiola and Manchester City

Even for someone with the cast-iron belief of Guardiola – who nevertheless does fret – that would be a dent to the confidence and, intriguingly of course, he is not signing a new contract at present, despite the fact that Klopp has renewed with Liverpool.

Guardiola has one more year after this campaign and has indicated he would like to stay, and City are desperate for him to do so, but it is not a given. Failing to win the Champions League during his time at City would hurt, just as it hurt him at Bayern, and a barren season would compound that. It will probably make him more determined than ever to stay. But maybe he might reason he is falling short.

Of course there should be some context. It would be a major shock if City do not beat Villa, although they and Guardiola could be forgiven for fearing there might just be another twist with the Liverpool connections of Steven Gerrard leading their opponents and with Philippe Coutinho facing them. The resolve City showed in coming back from 2-0 down last weekend away to West Ham United shows their determination, although there will also be regret around Riyad Mahrez’s missed late penalty.

If he had scored the title would have been City’s – given their far superior goal difference – and we would not be going into a final day decider as we did in 2019. Then City were away to Brighton, and Liverpool were at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers, as they are again this weekend.

Sadio Mane put Liverpool ahead, and Brighton also went in front, and briefly City were slipping up, although, in truth, they always looked like getting the result they needed and equalised just 83 seconds later before going on to win 4-1 and pip Liverpool by a point.

They will be desperately hoping that history repeats itself, with City also having won the league title at the Etihad on the final day 10 years ago. Not that they will want a repeat of the Sergio Aguero moment and there will be frustration, despite a deep admiration for Liverpool, from Guardiola that it has even come to this for a side that has scored four goals or more in a third of their league games. If they fail, that frustration will lead to criticism also. It shows how fine the margins are.

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