Champions League Final: Joleon Lescott says Pep Guardiola’s legendary status is assured

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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 tries to end the Spaniard’s ten-year 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 of waiting for Europe’s top prize
  • His great Barcelona team beat Manchester United to win the trophy in 2011
  • But Guardiola has not been able to repeat the feat in Bayern Munich or City
  • Ex-City defender Joleon Lescott believes Pep’s legendary status is safe

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

That’s the view of Joleon Lescott as Guardiola leads the defender’s former club Manchester City to a delectable English Champions League final against Chelsea on Saturday night.

It has now been a decade since Guardiola last won the elite European competition, when his iconic Barcelona team with 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 will take on Chelsea in the Champions League final on Saturday

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

He was unable to hand over the award in a three-year spell as coach of Bayern Munich and this is the first time Guardiola has led 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 contribute 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,” said Lescott.

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

What he’s done for the way the game is viewed by our league system – not just the Premier League, but teams in lower leagues trying to replicate the style that Pep created.

“In terms of a bigger legacy, I don’t think it will be compromised, but he can certainly improve it.”

Former City defender Joleon Lescott believes Guardiola will still be considered one of football's best managers, even if he doesn't win the Champions League again.

Former City defender Joleon Lescott believes Guardiola will still be considered one of football’s best managers, even if he doesn’t win the Champions League again.

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

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

Guardiola was heavily criticized for making team and tactical changes leading up to City’s surprise quarter-final defeat to Lyon last season, but Lescott believes the experience has made him stronger.

“The fact that he admitted his mistakes, I am sure he learned from them and that he is one of the fastest learning coaches, be it before, during or after a game,” said the ex-England center-back.

He quickly analyzes what needs to be done so that 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 misunderstood his tactics when City surprisingly lost to Lyon last season

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

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

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

Guardiola has won some big games this season without even playing a recognized striker, instead using a midfielder like Phil Foden, Ilkay Gundogan, Kevin De Bruyne or Bernardo Silva as a ‘false nine’.

And Lescott is deeply impressed with the latest tactical evolution of a manager known for them.

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

‘He had wanted to do it for a long time. I’ve seen quotes from players from previous clubs saying he’d like to play with 10 Iniestas.

Kevin De Bruyne (left) is one of City's midfielder pushed forward in a false nine roll

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

Phil Foden has enjoyed a staggering breakout season - and often from an advanced role

Phil Foden has enjoyed a staggering breakout season – and often from an advanced role

Midfielder Ilkay Gundogan - City's main goalscorer - has been excellent all season

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

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

‘It gives Gundogan the freedom as we saw earlier in the season. De Bruyne, Foden and Bernardo Silva rotate in midfield, sharing the workload both defensively and offensively.

“We haven’t seen a Pep team look this comfortable, so he deserves a lot of credit.”

BT Sport will show Manchester City against Chelsea in the final of the UEFA Champions League on Saturday 29 May from 6 p.m. Whoever you watch the final with, watch it together with BT. For more info go to btsport.com/final

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