Pep Guardiola is a grand master in the art of trophy collecting, with success having followed him around wherever he has been. A European Cup winner as a player and coach, the Catalan tactician has helped to raise collective standards on and off the pitch.
It is managerial circles that he has truly cemented his legacy, with the architect of tiki-taka having revolutionised the game in a way that many would have thought impossible. In a business where results are king and reigns can be short, Guardiola has proved to be a worthy recipient of the most prestigious crowns.
Having previously overseen league, cup and Champions League triumphs at Barcelona – followed by more domestic triumphs at Bayern Munich – Guardiola is now ruling the roost at Manchester City.
He has them in the hunt for more major honours in 2023, with bids for Premier League and continental glory being accompanied by a quest that sees the Blues sat at 11/10 in FA Cup betting to get their hands on another grand old prize.
Quite remarkably, Guardiola has only suffered one defeat in that competition outside of Wembley Stadium. He has, however, emerged victorious on just one occasion.
A shock 1-0 loss to Wigan Athletic in 2017-18 represents the only major blip on City’s recent FA Cup copybook, with the semi-finals having been reached in five of the last six seasons. Clearing that hurdle has proved problematic at times, with setbacks suffered against the likes of Arsenal (twice), Chelsea and Liverpool. On the one occasion that the Citizens did reach the final, in 2019, they were far too strong for Watford as they hit the Hornets for six at the home of English football.
That success formed part of a domestic clean sweep as City also lifted Premier League, League Cup and Community Shield trophies in the same season. There has been cause for celebration in each of those events since, but not in the FA Cup.
It is safe to assume that said anomaly will be eating away at Guardiola – a man that prides himself on consistency and always been in contention when winners’ medals are handed out. He has said of the FA Cup: “This competition is so nice. We won once, we arrived at three semi-finals but we didn’t perform well. Hopefully this season we can go through, arrive in better conditions to complete the final of the FA Cup because it is a really nice competition.”
While those words were delivered with a smile, they are also likely to have been muttered through gritted teeth. Guardiola has led City to four Premier League titles and as many League Cup wins. To only have one FA Cup in the cabinet comes as something of a surprise. City have always taken the competition seriously, despite seeing games stake up when chasing down honours on multiple fronts, and will feel as though luck has deserted them in certain campaigns. Guardiola is not the type to make excuses, though, and will be desperate to rid himself of one annoyance on the trophy front while continuing to chase down what would be a historic triumph for City in Champions League circles.