The football world was shocked by Friday’s announcement that Manchester City have been banned from European competition for two years as a result of serious breaches of UEFA’s financial fair play regulations.
Although the club intend to appeal this ruling, which also saw them fined £25million, the future of several star players, as well as manager Pep Guardiola, was soon thrown into doubt.
Having won an unprecedented domestic treble last season, the Champions League has become City’s main focus. It’s the one trophy that continues to elude them.
It’s also become something of a personal mission for Guardiola, who won the competition twice as manager of Barcelona, but consistently fell short at Bayern Munich.
Since joining Man City in 2016, the furthest he has taken them is to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, where they lost to Liverpool and then Tottenham Hotspur in consecutive seasons.
This time City are set to face Real Madrid in the round of 16 having topped their group, while Zinedine Zidane’s side finished second behind Paris Saint-Germain.
As it stands, an impending ban from European competition makes Guardiola’s desire to reclaim the Champions League all the more pressing, but he has apparently indicated to his players that he will remain at the club whatever happens.
According to Sky Sports, Guardiola and Raheem Sterling have reaffirmed their commitment to the City cause in the wake of UEFA’s ruling.
Guardiola’s current deal lasts until 2021 and he is apparently keen to see it through, emphasising the importance of the City squad staying united in difficult circumstances.
“Look, whatever league we are in, I will still be here,” he is reported to have said. “Even if they put us in League Two, I will still be here. This is a time for sticking together.”
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