Pep Guardiola says Manchester City are not failures – and even if they did win the Champions League, “it would be about the money”.
Real Madrid produced a dramatic late comeback at the Bernabeu to send Guardiola’s side crashing out of the Champions League and denying them a second consecutive final.
It leaves City still searching for a first Champions League trophy, while Guardiola last tasted success in Europe’s elite competition with Barcelona in 2011.
But Guardiola says the owner, Sheikh Mansour, has not invested in City solely for European success.
Asked if this group of players can win the Champions League, Guardiola said: “It’s a question I cannot answer – football is unpredictable.
“The owners didn’t buy this club and invest in these incredible facilities just to win the Champions League, they did it to be there in all competitions, every season.
“We want to [win the Champions League], maybe I am not good enough to help the team to do it. Nobody knows what would happen with another manager and other players.
“The people say if this group of players or Guardiola don’t win a title, then they’re failures, I completely disagree. We know how difficult everything is.”
Asked if he is now hungrier to win trophies, he added: “No, I am always starving. I cannot spend a year just thinking about how happy I am. If we had won the Champions League it would be the money we spend, not how hard we work.
“The players don’t realise now but it’s [losing] a gift for us. I’d love to win the Champions League and be in the final but we have to be better from what happened in Madrid.”
‘No words can help what we all feel’
Guardiola said he had not spoken to his players after Wednesday’s dramatic Real Madrid comeback denied them from reaching a second consecutive Champions League final.
“No words can help to feel what we all feel,” he said. “Just time, sleep as best as possible and think of the next target.
“On Saturday, we’ll be together and talk about who we are as a team and what we’ve done to get to the semi-finals of the Champions League. These are the moments I am most proud to be here.”
“For me it’s incredibly remarkable to be in the Champions League semi-finals again, making steps to be better and competing against an established team home and away,” he added.
“But the club and feeling we have, we try to do it. We accept everyone was sad but we were close. The players wanted to play the final, but for this club to compete against Real the way we did was a joy.”
‘I am always starving for trophies’
Guardiola must brush off Wednesday’s defeat in Madrid as City quickly turn their attentions to winning a third consecutive Premier League title – a feat no side has achieved since Manchester United in 2007-09.
They resume the title race with a trip to Newcastle on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League.
Guardiola’s side hold a two-point advantage over title rivals Liverpool, who can still achieve an unprecedented Quadruple this season, with four games left of the league season.
“The focus will be exactly the same because the potential final would have been after the Premier League,” said Guardiola. “The Leeds game was difficult and after this we knew it would be four finals.
“I’m not thinking about the title, I’m thinking about Newcastle, focus on the team and Eddie Howe.
“Kevin de Bruyne is available. He’s good. It was tactical [to substitute him against Real Madrid].”