HIS old mentor Johan Cruyff warned him it would be like this.
That Pep Guardiola the manager would spend far more time dealing with off-field issues than those on it.
A young Pep thought that was ‘crazy’. Yet never have the words of the Dutch master been more true than during this turbulent season at Manchester City.
Two weeks ago, City were stunned to be hit with a two-year European ban by Uefa for breaching their Financial Fair Play regulations.
Guardiola claims he has been shown evidence that City are innocent and expects the decision will be overturned by the Court of Arbitration for Sport later this year.
Yet the questions have come thick and fast for the Etihad boss — at times almost overshadowing a key run of games.
Earlier this week, The Sun reported how a former IT worker at the club had been foiled in his attempts to sell stolen emails from Guardiola and others for £100,000.
It is not the first time the club’s computer system has been hacked, of course.
They find themselves in the dock with Uefa because of private emails that were pinched — then made public in German publication Der Spiegel.
And rivals Liverpool were investigated by the Premier League recently for allegedly gaining unauthorised access to City’s scouting system.
Meanwhile, speculation over Guardiola’s long-term future has continued.
He has just over one year remaining on his contract and there have been question marks over whether funds will be available to carry out the squad revamp he wants this summer — particularly if the Champions League ban sticks.
How can they possibly match Liverpool’s efforts this term if there is precious little spare cash in the coffers?
If it is all starting to get on top of Guardiola, then he is not showing it.
He was clearly in the mood to chat as he spoke ahead of tomorrow’s Carabao Cup final against Aston Villa.
When it was put to the former Barcelona coach he must never have known a season like this, he smiled and said: “That is your opinion. Always there are many things off the pitch. Managers today sometimes focus more on that.
“Johan Cruyff told me once that the problem with the managers at the big clubs is that 70 or 80 per cent is issues off the pitch and just 20 on the pitch.
“At the time I thought, ‘He’s crazy’ — but it was true. We have to handle it, help the club and focus on what we love.”
He certainly seems able to do that.
Guardiola put the distractions to one side to mastermind City’s famous 2-1 win at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night.
And within hours — with the fans still talking about the club’s greatest-ever European night — he had to put it to the back of his mind and focus instead on yet another trip to Wembley.
Guardiola said: “The night after Madrid, we were calm.
“But when we landed back here, Madrid was absolutely gone in my mind and I was thinking about Aston Villa.
“And after that, Sheffield Wednesday in the FA Cup because we want to get to the quarter-finals.
“That is the only way clubs become stronger every year. You lose games, you lose competitions, but you are there.”
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