Manchester City: Needs to win Champions League for successful season – Ian Wright

Manchester City “have to win the Champions League for it to be a successful season”, says former England striker Ian Wright.

The defending champions are 22 points behind Premier League leaders Liverpool with 13 games remaining.

Pep Guardiola’s side face Real Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League, with the first leg on 26 February.

“You feel if they don’t win the Champions League then it’s not a good season,” Wright told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“But if they do win it, it’s a great season.”

He added: “I would start saving players for it because that’s what City have got to start focusing on.”

Speaking on the Monday Night Club, Wright said Guardiola, who won two Champions League titles in charge of Barcelona, will be determined to win it again with City after not doing so at previous club Bayern Munich.

Guardiola has said he thinks he will be regarded as a failure at City if he does not win the Champions League, with the club having failed to progress beyond the quarter-finals so far under the Spaniard.

“With the team he assembled, we thought it would happen in his tenure,” said Wright.

“He is three years in with a team that has played at a really high intensity and City have not been able to stay up with a Liverpool side that have kicked on.”

City need to ‘freshen up’ their defence

City lost 2-0 to Tottenham on Sunday and have conceded 29 goals in 25 league games this campaign – six more than last season when they beat Liverpool to the title by one point.

Wright said “nothing has gone too wrong for City” besides injuries to key players and an “amazing” Liverpool campaign but they will need to “freshen up” their defensive options this summer.

Former captain Vincent Kompany left at the end of last season, Aymeric Laporte has played just five league games because of injury and Guardiola has often opted for defensive midfielder Fernandinho over England’s John Stones at centre-back.

“We are being a bit harsh on City because Liverpool are running away with it,” said Wright.

“City have had a lot of injury problems with Leroy Sane a massive miss as well – I know there won’t be much sympathy for them, but the squad have had to play at a high intensity for a few years with what the manager wants.

“The emergence of Liverpool has put them under pressure at a time when it’s testing them but I don’t think Guardiola has underestimated Liverpool.

“He maybe didn’t replace Kompany because he had Laporte but then he got injured early on and it threw it all up in the air.

“Nicolas Otamendi and Stones have not been good enough and it’s got to the stage where something needs to be freshened up.”

Against Spurs, City also went consecutive games without scoring for the first time under Guardiola, but Wright said he was not overly concerned about City’s attacking play.

“As much as you’ve got to give Tottenham credit, City had great chances – we’re not talking about a City team not creating chances, we’re talking about a City team who aren’t taking chances,” he said.

“It’s not been a good title defence but Guardiola isn’t embarrassed, he’s just not used to losing in this way.

“You can see it is in face, he’s thinking, ‘This isn’t meant to be happening’.”

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