Manchester City president Khaldoon Al-Mubarak proud of his team’s achievements despite Champions League disappointment

DUBAI: Manchester City president Khaldoon Al-Mubarak declared his pride in Pep Guardiola and his players after a season which brought in two domestic trophies but ended in a 1-0 defeat in the Champions League final against Chelsea last Saturday.

Kai Havertz’s first-half goal meant the newly crowned England champions couldn’t achieve a historic treble, but Al-Mubarak said he was “very, very proud” of what the club have achieved. during a difficult season.

“When you reach the final of the Champions League, which is the pinnacle of football and sport, I think it’s an incredible achievement,” he said. “We have worked hard for so many years to get to this point. It’s about building blocks, it’s about growing and achieving our goals. And in order to achieve goals, you are going to miss goals. It’s part of life, it’s part of football. You win, you lose in the final, it’s football.

Mubarak admitted that Manchester City’s involvement in the European Super League project was a mistake he regretted, a mistake the club learned.

“It was a decision based on one opinion, which was a mistaken opinion, that it would improve and strengthen our position as a club,” he said. “What he missed is an important aspect, is how the fans felt about it.

“We will learn from it, I have no doubt. Our fans value the hearts and minds of everything we do.

Despite the disappointment in Porto, the season still delivered the triumphs of the Premier League and the Carabao Cup.

“It has been a remarkable season in every way, but it is also the culmination of years of hard work to achieve a level of consistency, a level of expectation, that this club has reached now, which is a club that will compete. year after year, “Al-Mubarak said. “You can’t win every year, but year after year we’ll be there. For 10 years in a row we’ve been in the Champions League, no other English team has done that. Five Premier League titles in the past 10 years.

Ten years ago, Al-Mubarak set himself a goal of winning five league titles over the next decade, and now he says it wasn’t just hyperbole.

“It’s easy to say now, but you’ve seen it happen over the past 10 years and that belief was not based on prayer, it was based on clarity and planning, knowledge and people. that we have in this club, a clear strategy and confidence in each one to execute it “, he declared.” And then the talent. You need all that. In a league, the best team normally wins, and I think we had the best team most of the time.

“I know Sheikh Mansoor is immensely proud. His vision, dating back to 2008 and what he wanted and expected over the next 10 to 12 years, has been realized, ”Al-Mubarak added. “And as we look at the next 10 years, his vision of what he hopes to achieve, I think we are well positioned to achieve it.”

Manchester City started the 2020-21 campaign without fans and in relatively poor form, and had lost the league title to Liverpool the previous season, which for Al-Mubarak made it much more difficult than in previous years.

“It was a two-season hybrid because we were in the Champions League quarter-finals last season in August, and we didn’t have any breaks,” he said. “There was a short stretch with almost no preseason. You come back and start the news season, still in the midst of Covid time. I remember very well, the Lyon defeat gave us a great feeling of lack. Losing the Premier League to Liverpool, the way we lost it, and then losing the Champions League, we had to be very strong mentally to recover and come back.

“Even at the lowest point, I had no doubts that we would do it right. “

This summer, club legend Sergio Aguero leaves the Etihad for Barcelona and the City president is already planning to strengthen the squad ahead of next season.

“We have to constantly bring in talent, refresh ourselves and especially when you are at a high level, at the top,” Al-Mubarak said. “After winning the league, now is not the time to sit down and be content, that would be a big mistake. Now is the time to send a message that you are committed and bringing talent, not just to the team but to the starting 11. We are losing a legend in Sergio Aguero. Really big shoes to fill in but I’m sure we’ll find the right player, and there are other areas of the team that need investment. Not too much, it’s not a question of numbers, it’s a question of quality.

One thing City management has never wavered from is their full support for Guardiola, who is now at the Etihad longer than at any of his previous clubs.

“His record here, given his work ethic and his passion, you cannot be confident,” Al-Mubarak said. “Another thing to note with Pep is the humanity that comes with him. He’s a very special human being. I knew he was in a tight spot, at a low point, probably in November before he signed his contract. , and I think back to our reunion when we sat together, had long discussions and really had a refresh, a realignment. I saw a man so disappointed, in his mind, that he didn’t deliver what he thought he had to deliver for this club, a man who was so hungry but felt he would let us down.

“But he hadn’t, and that’s what I needed to get him to understand. I told Sheikh Mansoor that I felt we were going to win the championship, and I said that I thought we would go far in the Champions League. I didn’t know if we were going to win, but I thought we would go far.

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