Vincent Kompany insists Manchester City still have aspirations of being the best side in Europe, although he admits they are some way short just yet.
The Blues have been the dominant force of English football over the past four years, during which they have ended a 35-year wait for silverware to win the Premier League title twice, an FA Cup and the League Cup. However, they have struggled badly in the UEFA Champions League, and have been knocked out at the last-16 stage in each of the last two campaigns.
Their latest elimination came when Barcelona, 2-1 up from the first leg, finished the job at the Camp Nou with a 1-0 win which could have been much heavier were it not for Joe Hart in the City goal. Kompany was naturally deflated at the end of the match, but the Belgian insists his club still have the ambition to conquer Europe although he accepts the size of the job this entails.
“The reality is they were the better team, there’s no shame in admitting that,” said the City captain. “For me there is a big, big difference. I will just mention Bayern Munich and Barcelona, and then there are the rest of the teams, with Real Madrid probably in between. Ultimately we have always said our goal is to become as good as them, but it will take some time. They are really good.
“Bayern Munich and Barcelona are not just UEFA Champions League-winning teams, but they are also World Cup-winning teams as well. They have generations that have played together a long time. Of course we want to make up the gap but you just have to be true to yourself. We have the ambition to be as good as they are one day, but it is not going to happen overnight.”
With City trailing Chelsea in the title race by six points having played a game more, it now looks certain that they will end the season without a trophy having relinquished their grip on the League Cup at the fourth round stage and losing to Championship side Middlesbrough in the fourth round of the FA Cup in January. This could also lead to the departure of manager Manuel Pellegrini, who replaced Roberto Mancini when he was sacked for a similarly disappointing campaign in 2013.