Louis van Gaal: Pep Guardiola Couldn't Win 'At Highest Level' with City, Bayern

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistAugust 2, 2019

Manchester City's head coach Pep Guardiola is pictured before a friendly football match between English Premier League club Manchester City and Japan League Yokohama F. Marinos at the Yokohama Stadium, in Yokohama on July 27, 2019. (Photo by CHARLY TRIBALLEAU / AFP)        (Photo credit should read CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/AFP/Getty Images)
CHARLY TRIBALLEAU/Getty Images

Louis van Gaal has said Pep Guardiola's failure to win the UEFA Champions League with Manchester City or Bayern is a consequence of the Catalan being too concerned with his playing philosophy.

City won the first domestic treble in their history under Guardiola last season but were knocked out of the Champions League quarter-finals by eventual runners-up Tottenham Hotspur.

Guardiola managed Bayern from 2013 to 2016 and recorded three consecutive semi-final exits in the competition. Van Gaal told France Football (h/t AS) the City boss and Ajax manager Erik ten Hag suffered in Europe because they didn't adapt to their opponents:

"Winning the Premier League for the second time is fantastic. Guardiola won everything he could win, but at the highest level in the Champions League, he didn't win with City or with Bayern.

"It's a consequence of being too worried about the way you play and not enough about your opponent. You have to respect your rival. Guardiola and Ten Hag have a lot of quality compared to their rivals, but this doesn't apply in the Champions League."

Ajax encountered Spurs in the semis and were knocked out after Lucas Moura scored a crucial 3-2 winner in the sixth minute of second-leg injury time. Ten Hag's side would have advanced as 3-2 aggregate winners before the Brazilian's last-gasp strike, making it more difficult to criticise the coach or any one individual.

Former Netherlands and Barcelona manager Van Gaal last coached Manchester United and left the club in 2016, the same summer Guardiola was appointed at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola has a successful record in finals as a manager and has only lost once in his career after reaching that stage, per Sky Sports Statto:

The 48-year-old managed Barcelona to Champions League titles in 2009 and 2011, accounting for two of the 14 trophies he won while at the Camp Nou helm.

Despite his failure to crack Europe since leaving Barca in 2012, Guardiola has won a combined five domestic league titles with City (2017-18) and Bayern (2013-16).

The City chief's trophy tally took him past old rival Jose Mourinho after successfully defending the Premier League in May, per Fox Soccer:

It's somewhat ironic that City's last two Champions League quarter-final exits have each come against English opponents—Tottenham (2019) and Liverpool (2018)—while they fell to AS Monaco in the last 16 in 2017.

Guardiola will again bear huge expectations entering the 2019-20 campaign. As for improving on last season's silverware haul, he said in April that winning a quadruple was next to impossible, per Omnisport:

City face Liverpool in the Community Shield on Sunday and travel to Wembley Stadium hoping to win their first piece of silverware against the current kings of Europe.

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