Lescott: Pep Guardiola's legendary status is already assured

Pep Guardiola’s place among the great football managers is assured even if he NEVER wins the Champions League again, says Joleon Lescott, as Man City try and end Spaniard’s decade-long wait for the trophy against Chelsea

  • Manchester City and Chelsea meet in Saturday’s Champions League final
  • Pep Guardiola is desperate to end a decade-long wait for Europe’s top prize
  • His great Barcelona team defeated Manchester United to lift the trophy in 2011
  • But Guardiola hasn’t been able to repeat the feat at Bayern Munich or City
  • Ex-City defender Joleon Lescott believes Pep’s legendary status is secure  

Pep Guardiola’s status as a legendary manager won’t be tarnished if he fails to win the Champions League again in his illustrious career.

That’s the opinion of Joleon Lescott as Guardiola leads the defender’s former club Manchester City into a mouth-watering all-English Champions League final against Chelsea on Saturday night.

It’s a decade now since Guardiola last won Europe’s elite competition, when his iconic Barcelona team featuring Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta outclassed Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United at Wembley.

Pep Guardiola has waited a decade to win the Champions League since his iconic Barcelona team defeated Manchester United in the 2011 final at Wembley

Guardiola’s Manchester City take on Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday

He wasn’t able to deliver the prize in a three-year stint as Bayern Munich coach and this is the first time Guardiola has guided City to the final in his fifth season there.

But Lescott believes Guardiola’s place among football’s great managers is assured even if the 50-year-old doesn’t add to the two Champions League successes with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011.

‘I don’t think anyone will judge Pep if he never wins the Champions League again,’ Lescott said.

‘The fact is he has had a huge impact on Manchester City and the Premier League. I don’t think his legacy will be tarnished in any way if he doesn’t win it.

‘What he has done for the way the game is viewed right through our league system – not just the Premier League, but teams in lower leagues trying to emulate the style that Pep has created.

‘In terms of a bigger legacy, I don’t think it will be tarnished but he can definitely enhance it.’

Former City defender Joleon Lescott believes Guardiola will still be regarded as one of football’s greatest managers even if he doesn’t win the Champions League again

Guardiola is thrown in the air by his jubilant Barcelona players after their triumph in 2011

Guardiola was heavily criticised when he made team and tactical changes ahead of City’s surprise quarter-final defeat to Lyon last season but Lescott believes he emerged stronger for the experience.

‘The fact he admitted his mistakes, I’m sure he has learned from it and he is one of the fastest learning coaches whether pre, during or after a game,’ said the ex-England centre-back.

‘He is quick to analyse what needs to be done so the fact he understands that he has done things that have had a negative effect in the past.

‘I’m sure he knows what to do and the two defeats recently [to Chelsea], he will have learned from them.

‘Like any manager, you tend to learn more when you lose.’

Guardiola admitted he got his tactics wrong when City surprisingly lost to Lyon last season

The manager made team selection and tactical tweaks ahead of the quarter-final in Lisbon

Guardiola has won a number of big games this season without even playing a recognised centre forward, instead deploying a midfielder such as Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne or Bernardo Silva as a ‘false nine.’

And Lescott has been thoroughly impressed by the latest tactical evolution from a manager renowned for them.

‘It is a massive achievement. It may have been forced on them a little bit earlier in the season with injuries,’ he said.

‘He has wanted to do it for a long time. I have seen quotes from players at previous clubs saying he would like to play with 10 Iniestas.

Kevin De Bruyne (left) is one of City’s midfielder pushed forward into a false nine role

Phil Foden has enjoyed a stunning breakthrough season – and often from an advanced role

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan – City’s leading goalscorer – has been truly excellent all season

‘So in terms of the way he coaches, it has benefitted the players and all the players seem to be happy with what’s expected in their role.

‘It gives the freedom to Gundogan as we have seen earlier in the season. De Bruyne, Foden and Bernardo Silva rotate in the midfield and share the workload both defensively and in attack.

‘We haven’t seen a Pep team look as comfortable doing that so he deserves a lot of credit.’

BT Sport will show Manchester City vs Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League final live from 6:00pm on Saturday 29th May. Whoever you watch the final with, watch it together with BT. For more info go to btsport.com/final 

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