Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola
Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola Image Credit: AP

Manchester: Pep Guardiola says he will not judge himself too harshly if his spell as Manchester City manager ends without winning the Champions League.

The draw for this year’s competition this week appeared to offer City a favourable route into the knock-out stages, pairing them with Ukraine’s Shakhtar Donetsk, Croatian outfit Dinamo Zagreb and Italian side Atalanta.

After Guardiola led City to every domestic trophy last season, there appears more pressure than ever on the highly decorated coach to land the European crown.

But Guardiola insists the prospect of failure in the tournament for a fourth successive season does not concern him, despite a record of two quarter-final appearances and one in the last 16 while at the Etihad.

“It’s important, I know it’s important and if it happens it will be important,” he said.

“But I will be the same guy, I’ll wake up in the morning, work a lot, go to sleep as early as possible, eat good, take care of myself as best as possible and love the people I love.

“I’m going to do my best but it’s not going to change my life.

“When I say thank you to everybody for my time here it’s not going to change my opinion about this title or that title.

“We are happy with what we’ve done so far, we came here to play the way we want to play.

“If we’re good enough we’ll fight until the end, if not we’re going to try next season.”

Guardiola’s star players endured mixed fortunes on the international front this week, with right-back Kyle Walker being left out of the England squad by Gareth Southgate.

However, City centre-half Aymeric Laporte was called up by the French national team — the first time in the three years he has been in their squad — for the upcoming games with Albania and Andorra.

“I was a little bit surprised at first,” said Guardiola of Walker’s omission. “But I’m not involved.

“We’ll respect the decision. Kyle is coming back stronger. I understand him and support Gareth.

“For me Aymeric is the best left-sided centre defender in Europe.

“I’m incredibly grateful to Didier Deschamps. Hopefully he can play good and stay there for a long time.”

Walker’s situation may soon be complicated at club level, as well as the national team, with Guardiola saying their summer signing from Juventus, Portuguese international Joao Cancelo, is ready to start his City career.

He will be blooded in the busy schedule that follows next week’s international break.

“When we come back, we play with Norwich, then go to the Ukraine, then another game here,” said Guardiola.

“It starts the real season. Joao we’re delighted what we’ve seen but he arrived late.

“There are many things Kyle knows completely and Joao is starting to understand what to do.”

Europa League

Meanwhile, Europa League runners-up Arsenal and semi-finalists Eintracht Frankfurt were grouped together in the draw for this season’s competition, which was held in Monaco on Friday.

Frankfurt and Arsenal, who lost to winners Chelsea in the semis and final respectively last season, were joined by Belgian side Standard Liege and Portugal’s Vitoria SC in Group F.

Manchester United, winners of the competition in 2017, will have a lot of travelling to do to Eastern Europe after being drawn alongside Kazakhstan side Astana, Serbia’s Partizan Belgrade and Dutch side AZ Alkmaar.

Sevilla, who won a hat-trick of titles between 2014 and 2016, were drawn in an easier group with Apoel Nicosia (Cyprus), Qarabag (Azerbaijan) and F91 Dudelange (Luxembourg).

Wolverhampton Wanderers, who went through three rounds of qualifying to reach the group stage, were drawn with Turkish side Besiktas, Portugal’s Braga and Slovakia’s Slovan Bratislava.

Meanwhile, Manchester United will have a long trip to Kazakhstan as well as flights to Serbia and the Netherlands in the group stage of the Europa League.

The three-time champions of the more illustrious European Cup are back in the second-tier competition after finishing sixth in the Premier League last season.

United were drawn into Group L with AZ Alkmaar, Partizan Belgrade and Astana, which is more than six hours by air from Manchester.

Friday’s draw gave Premier League rivals Arsenal a more favourable travel schedule for the Thursday night games. The London club were drawn into Group F with Eintracht Frankfurt, Standard Liege and Portuguese club Vitoria.

The draw

Group A: Sevilla (Spain), APOEL Nicosia (Cyprus), Qarabag (Azerbaijan), Dudelange (Luxembourg)

Group B: Dynamo Kyiv (Ukraine), Copenhagen (Denmark), Malmo (Sweden), Lugano (Switzerland)

Group C: Basel (Switzerland), Krasnodar (Russia), Getafe (Spain), Trabzonspor (Turkey)

Group D: Sporting Lisbon (Portugal), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Rosenborg (Norway), LASK (Austria)

Group E: Lazio (Italy), Celtic (Scotland), Rennes (France), Cluj (Romania)

Group F: Arsenal (England), Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany), Standard Liege (Belgium), Vitoria (Portugal)

Group G: Porto (Portugal), Young Boys (Switzerland), Feyenoord (Netherlands), Rangers (Scotland)

Group H: CSKA Moscow (Russia), Ludogorets (Bulgaria), Espanyol (Spain), Ferencvaros (Hungary)

Group I: Wolfsburg (Germany), Gent (Belgium), Saint-Etienne (France), Olexandriya (Ukraine)

Group J: Roma (Italy), Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany), Istanbul Basaksehir (Turkey), Wolfsberg (Austria)

Group K: Besiktas (Turkey), Braga (Portugal), Wolverhampton Wanderers (England), Slovan Bratislava (Slovakia)

Group L: Manchester United (England), Astana (Kazakhstan), Partizan Belgrade (Serbia), AZ Alkmaar (Netherlands)