Thursday, 16 March 2017
Pep Guardiola takes blame for Man City exit
Leading 5-3 from the first leg of their last-16 tie, City fielded an attacking XI in the second leg on Wednesday but lost 3-1 to go out on away goals.
“I tried to convince them in all the meetings we had to come here, try to attack and score,” said Guardiola.
“My mistake was being not able to convince them to do that.”
The Spaniard added: “I did [convince them] in the second half but it was too late.
“All managers make mistakes but I don’t think it was down to a tactical mistake.
“It’s simple. The difference was between the first and the second half. In the second half we tried to win the game, we tried to play. I did it all my career in that way. But the problem was the first half. We weren’t there.”
City were overrun and sloppy at the back as they conceded twice in the first half.
They were much improved in the second 45 minutes and looked to have saved themselves through Leroy Sane’s 71st-minute strike, but further defensive frailties were exposed as Tiemoue Bakayoko headed in a decisive third for the home side.
Guardiola continued: “It’s not about the defence. Today was not about that. Why was the second half a problem with the defence?
“Our strikers have to be aggressive and pick the ball up, but we didn’t at this crucial time. That’s why we are out.”
This is the first time that a side managed by Guardiola have exited the Champions League at the last-16 stage.
But he was adamant his players would learn from the experience and come back stronger next season.
“I came here to win the Champions League. I tried, I tried – and I will try again,” he said. “Playing like we have done this season, like in the second half, would have been enough.
“The competition is so demanding. Hopefully we are going to learn so that, next season, we can come back here and make the same performance we did at the Etihad for the whole 90 minutes.”