Should United follow up their dramatic Round of 16 win over Paris St-Germain by beating the Spanish champions, Liverpool could lie in wait in the semi-finals. The Merseyside club must first overcome Porto, who they crushed 5-0 on aggregate in the knockout stages last season, in what appears the most favourable quarter-final draw of the four English participants.
City – who have already won a second successive League Cup this term – are bidding to become the first top flight side to retain the Premier League title for a decade and the first English team in history to win a quadruple, and play Swansea City in the FA Cup quarter-finals at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night.
But Rio Ferdinand, the former United and England defender, claimed this week that Guardiola’s reign “will be defined by whether City win the Champions League or not” and said it would be “frowned upon” if he fails to – a judgement the Catalan said he would have no choice but to accept.
“Everyone can judge if it’s a disaster – if we do not win the Champions League, our work for three seasons, every three days, is a failure or a disaster,” Guardiola said. “I completely do not agree but what can I say? Accept it and move on.
“We won a lot in the past and that’s why people believe that is normal but that is not normal. There are six teams in the Premier League and we cannot say they are bad because all of them are in quarter-finals [Arsenal and Chelsea are in the last eight of the Europa League]. Two of them next season will not be in the Champions League.
“Going through the group stage – incredible success. Quarter-finals – incredible success. My standards are not thinking, ‘We are Manchester City, we have to win everything. We have to win the final and if not it will be a disaster.’ It will be a disaster when you don’t do what you have to do – [that is] put in absolutely everything to try it.
“When I spoke with my chairman, CEO, sporting director, the people here working know, and they give credit for what we have done in the last two seasons. At the end, that is the most important thing.”