x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Risks justified the rewards for triumphant Guardiola

In the corridors of power and celebrity inside the main stand at Rome's Olimpico after Wednesday's Champions League final, Pep Guardiola and Sir Alex Ferguson, victor and vanquished, cut contrasting figures.

Manchester United's Ronaldo reflects on defeat.
Manchester United's Ronaldo reflects on defeat.

ROME // In the corridors of power and celebrity inside the main stand at Rome's Olimpico after Wednesday's Champions League final, Pep Guardiola and Sir Alex Ferguson, victor and vanquished, cut contrasting figures. Guardiola, as sharp in the mind and in his sartorial style, accepted the platitudes from journalists and friends after revealing his philosophy and tactics. He has retained remarkable composure throughout Barca's treble winning season - his first in charge at the club - always remaining true to their attack-minded policy.

"If you take the ball and you attack and you are daring you have more chances of winning," said the former Barca midfielder. "We were not cowards, never in the match. There's no other way. There's nothing more dangerous than not taking risks. "We started badly but the goal calmed us down and, in general, we played a good match." "We have worked many, many hours throughout the season and I know there are many people who are very happy. Now we have a prize for those efforts."

Showing a seldom seen ebullient side, Guardiola explained that the reason for his side's domination was his decision to move Lionel Messi into midfield. "Messi went back into midfield because we wanted to be superior in possession. Without the ball we are a disastrous team, a horrible team, so we need the ball." Summing up a season in which Barca have exceeded the unfeasibly high expectations to become the first Spanish team to win the treble of the Primera Liga, domestic cup and European Cup, the 38-year-old added: "We are not the best team in history but we have played the best season in the club's history to win the three titles."

Devoid of cheer and drained of personality, a grey suited Ferguson was magnanimous in defeat, saying: "We got into good positions but, in fairness, we were well beaten, the better team won." "We started vibrantly but once they scored we were up against it. We couldn't keep the ball all night. Our defending was shoddy and the first goal was a killer for us." The disappointed United manager still praised his Premier League and Carling Cup winning side. "They have done well," Ferguson said.

"We have had a long season - 66 games. They need credit for their resilience and for some of the football they have played." The Scot will draw strength from defeat, but he won't have needed reminding by Barca's Thierry Henry, who capped a superb second season at Camp Nou, pointing out: "You only remember winners." amitten@thenational.ae