Pep Guardiola needs another magical night at Wembley as he aims to salvage something from flop first Manchester City season

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TWIN TOWER POWER

Man City are 11 points behind Premier League pacesetters Chelsea and out of the title race

FOR Pep Guardiola, Sunday’s return to Wembley will be an emotional one.

It was beneath the old Twin Towers 25 years ago he enjoyed his greatest moment as a player — helping Barcelona to their first European Cup.

EPA

Pep Guardiola has found life difficult in the Premier League but finally has his City side purring

And where in the new stadium in 2011 he established himself as one of the game’s greatest coaches.


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Pep Guardiola is keen to strengthen his squad with top names this summer

Reuters

Pep Guardiola is keen to strengthen his squad with top names this summer

Fast forward to 2017 and Guardiola is facing one of his biggest challenges — helping to salvage Manchester City’s season.

The cracks have opened up, with City 11 points behind pacesetters Chelsea and out of the title race.

They also suffered a last-16 KO in the Champions League to Monaco and now only the FA Cup  represents a chance of some silverware in his first season at the Etihad.

Pep Guardiola guided his star-studded Barcelona team to Champions League glory at Wembley

Times Newspapers Ltd

Pep Guardiola guided his star-studded Barcelona team to Champions League glory at Wembley

Pep Guardiola ditched Joe Hart over doubts around his passing ability

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Pep Guardiola ditched Joe Hart over doubts around his passing ability
Manchester City 3-1 Hull City: Second half goals from Aguero and Delph secure win

As he returns for Sunday’s semi-final against Arsenal, in what will be his 50th City match, there are question marks over his head for the first time.

Failure will mean it is the first season of his coaching career that he has not won a trophy.

Yet this was the man who was supposed to re-establish them as  champions.

Manchester City, in their first season under Pep Guardiola, have spent the most on agents

Rex Features

Manchester City, in their first season under Pep Guardiola, have spent the most on agents
Arsenal 2-2 Manchester City : Mustafi rescues a point for the Gunners

After all, that is what Manuel Pellegrini did in his first season, plus he led them to the Champions League semi-finals.

After a ten-game winning start it looked like all was on course as those in the Etihad boardroom patted themselves on the back for a great managerial coup.

The best-laid plans have, however, unravelled.

Now under Guardiola there are fears of not even qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

City are four points above fifth-placed neighbours Manchester United, who have a game in hand, with the derby to come next Thursday.

The home of English footbal is a happy hunting ground for Guardiola

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The home of English footbal is a happy hunting ground for Guardiola

Pep Guardiola's Manchester City are also said to have contacted Alexis Sanchez

Rex Features

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City are also said to have contacted Alexis Sanchez

Guardiola’s side is undoubtedly the best in the country going forward. But it is at the back that his decisions have backfired.

The dumping of Joe Hart for the erratic Claudio Bravo was just wrong.

There have even been ironic cheers at home when the £17million Chilean occasionally makes a save.

It is all a far cry from 1992 for Guardiola when he was in the Barca side that finally ended the club’s long wait for European Cup glory thanks to Ronald Koeman’s extra-time free-kick winner against ­Sampdoria.

Joe Hart was offloaded by Pep Guardiola due to his lack of ball control

Getty Images

Joe Hart was offloaded by Pep Guardiola due to his lack of ball control
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola loses temper on touchline after Monaco goal

Guardiola would return to the new national stadium as Barca boss in 2011.

He already had one Champions League success under his belt after beating United in the 2009 final.

In doing so again two years later, with an even better display in a 3-1 ­triumph over Alex Ferguson’s men, his Barca team was established as one of the greatest club sides.



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