Earlier this month, Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola made headlines when he appeared to argue that “everyone” in England who wasn’t a City fan was backing Liverpool to win the Premier League title.
Now, ahead of the final game of the 2021-22 season in his press conference ahead of City’s clash with former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard’s Aston Villa, Guardiola sought to clarify his comments, suggesting that he may have been misunderstood—or that he may have made his points imprecisely—as he was not speaking in his first language.
“I’m sure my English isn’t good after four, five years,” he noted. “I said in the time you arrive for the titles, the teams with more history have more supporters.
“It happens in Spain, Germany, Italy. We are outsiders in the last decade. Liverpool fans want to win, and I’m not saying all the country are Liverpool fans, but in general they are a team with more titles.
“In countries all around the world there are teams people support more than the other ones. Liverpool, United, Arsenal have a lot of history, we are new. It’s why we feel it’s a privilege and won’t waste this opportunity to enjoy the 95 minutes.”
The important takeaways in this revision, therefore, are that Guardiola seems to be saying that Liverpool have more fans because they have won more titles, while Manchester City are “new,” with new presumably speaking to them being new only to challenging for titles after the influx of money that preceded his move to join the club.
Following his logic, then, City are still just in the process of building their global fanbase, something that comes from having only becoming competitive recently and winning titles over a much shorter period in comparison to the Reds.
While on the surface it’s perhaps not an unfair proposal, one wonders then why in his initial statement he noted that while Liverpool had been strong in Europe—winning six European Cups since their first in 1976/77—the Reds have not been especially strong domestically in the Premier League era, noting “in the Premier League they’ve won one in 30 years.”
While this is a factual statement, it feels a little now as though Guardiola wants to have it both ways, complaining that City lack a strong fanbase as they haven’t won as much as Liverpool while also talking up the fact that at least in England, City have collected more silverware than the Reds in the Premier League era.
That same distinction also isn’t made to separate the European Cup and Champions League, a competition that was also rebranded in 1992. After all, by that same metric it would have to be said that Liverpool have only won the two Champions Leagues in 30 years. Perhaps he will have to further explain the differing standard at some point.
Regardless, as requested we can only do our best to give Pep Guardiola the benefit of the doubt and get behind his assertion that Liverpool have more fans due to dominance in multiple competitions over a long history when compared to “new” Manchester City.
He certainly knows what he’s talking about: when he mentions the other countries that have the same fanbase patterns, he speaks from direct experience as former manager of massive Barcelona and Bayern Munich. Presumably he can draw on those experiences when discussing what it’s like to manage a “new” or “outsider” club like Manchester City.