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Pep Guardiola has revealed how a heart-to-heart meeting with Manchester City chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak convinced him to pledge his future to the club and launched them on their way towards yet another Premier League title and their first Champions League Final.
After a dispiriting defeat to Lyon in the quarter-finals of last season’s competition in August, City had made a stuttering start to the new campaign and, with Guardiola’s contract due to expire this summer, speculation was mounting about his future.
But, following the talks, which reportedly took place while the two men and their respectively families had a brief holiday break in The Maldives last November, the City manager returned with a fresh commitment.
He also signed a two-year contract extension that will keep him at The Etihad until 2023 and attempt to build on a record that has now seen him win the league title in nine of his 12 seasons as a manager with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.
“I travelled to see him in November, we had long discussions together, he convinced me that we still have a lot of work to do,” explained Guardiola of his meeting with Al Mubarak.
“I trust him a lot, and the way he said to me, I said, ‘okay we’re going to try again the next years.’
“And part of the reason why I have happiness here, and we have had success, is his determination to convince me, to say we still have (things) to do.
“We cannot forget the disappointment of Lyon, the quarter-final of the Champions League the previous season, and we started this season with a lot of ups and downs
“And that is the big difference I found. When I had the feeling sometimes in other clubs - I’ve always been supported in Barcelona and Bayern Munich, but I had the feeling that the manager would only be supported when he had success.
“And I cannot forget the first season here when I didn’t win anything, the behaviour of my chairman. And I cannot forget the big disappointment, personally, against Lyon, the support I had from my chairman.
“I saw that he trusted me, I cannot assure him of success, Nobody can. But I saw his eyes, the way we were with our families and I saw it and I trusted him and when that happens you have to do it. After what happened in the first season and the way they were, I cannot say no.”
The bad news for City’s rivals is that, despite his phenomenal personal achievement of only having failed to win the league title in three of his dozen years in management, Guardiola shows no signs of losing his addiction to success.
“I would say, we are financially strong, without good players it’s not possible. we won nine titles but it’s it’s easier to do it here than other clubs,” he said.
“Saying that, It’s so addictive, winning so nice. You do better, you laugh more, your relations become better. everything is better.
“It’s addictive and after that – why should you stop, when there’s still things to do? Why should we not try to improve and win again when still we can do it? Why should we not improve our gameplan, our game, if we can do it?
“When you have the feeling it’s enough and the pleasure of winning the Premier League is not something special, it’s the time to say goodbye, but I still have this desire to win and the players still love to play football then we are going to continue.”
Guardiola, who takes his champions to Newcastle on Friday, also revealed how the highlight of the team celebrations on Tuesday night, after Manchester United’s defeat handed City the title, came in the form of a pizza delivery.
“The unexpected parties are the nicest ones,” he said. “We came here in our bubble. We drank a bit, we danced, we hugged a lot, we remembered how good it was. Then at 11.30, 15 pizzas arrived and that was the best moment of the night!
“Here in England parties are always just alcohol, and I don’t understand why. But the moment we brought the pizzas was perfect. It was a nice moment, altogether here. We celebrated really good.”