Pep Guardiola can help heal Real Madrid pain by signing a new deal at Manchester City

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The scenes in the streets around the Santiago Bernabeu in the early hours of Thursday morning were familiar.

Once again the supporters of Real Madrid were celebrating passage to a Champions League final. The circumstances of Real’s victory over Manchester City may have been remarkable but the singing and chanting that continued beyond 2am were not.

In Madrid, this is what they live for. Success in Europe is part of the identity of a club who have won the competition and its forerunner the European Cup 13 times.

Pep Guardiola's future remains up in the air - he is contracted to Man City until next year

Pep Guardiola’s future remains up in the air – he is contracted to Man City until next year

City have never felt that. Even as Abu Dhabi money has elevated the Premier League leaders to the levels of the very best in Europe, European football has taken some getting used to, both on and off the field. After another numbing disappointment, that sense of relative detachment goes on.

If City can win the Premier League again this season, many people associated with the club will argue that is what matters and to a degree they would be right.

They are not Real Madrid and they are not Liverpool and do not aspire to be. City – particularly the club’s fanbase – are a club that for one reason or another see things a little differently.

As they attempt to move on from what happened in the closing minutes of Wednesday’s semi-final second leg, however, there is one issue that does cloud the horizon in an irrevocable way and it is that of Pep Guardiola’s future.

As it stands, the manager is contracted to City until the end of next season. By that time he will have been in Manchester for seven years. He hinted to a Brazilian business conference last August that he did not expect to re-sign. He subsequently tried to extricate himself from the implication of those comments but they were, in truth, pretty clear at the time.

Should he renew, it would help heal the pain of another failed Champions League campaign

Should he renew, it would help heal the pain of another failed Champions League campaign

Real Madrid pulled off a miraculous comeback against City to reach the final in Paris

Real Madrid pulled off a miraculous comeback against City to reach the final in Paris

Now, towards the end of another demanding English season, Guardiola’s intentions remain unclear. But there are those at City who believe the wind has changed a little, that the great Catalan may feel there is yet more to achieve, particularly given he is likely to have Erling Haaland in his squad by the time summer comes around.

For City, Guardiola’s name on a new contract would mean more than an appearance in a Champions League final. It would enable them to look to the future with the same sense of clarity that will benefit Liverpool following Jurgen Klopp’s decision to commit to the club until 2026 last week.

The implications of Klopp’s move are immense, not just for Liverpool but for City, Manchester United and Chelsea – or any other club with aspirations of being competitive at the top of the Premier League in the coming years.

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At United, for example, they have privately accepted they may not challenge for the title again until the Klopp / Guardiola era is closed. Now that one of the two greatest modern coaches has chosen to stay put, eyes inevitably turn to the other one.

What will Pep do? Guardiola remains devilishly difficult to read but it is feasible that the Champions League will have an influence on his decision. He was 40 when he last won it with Barcelona and is 51 now.

Guardiola is likely to have Erling Haaland in his squad by the time summer comes around

Guardiola is likely to have Erling Haaland in his squad by the time summer comes around

If he leaves City having failed to scratch that itch, it is likely to represent a disappointment that stays with him. This, after all, is a competition that he once looked set to claim almost as his own. City, for their part, can only hope. The club is set up to succeed at every level these days.

But take Guardiola out of that structure and something intrinsic and fundamental to what they do is immediately lost. Just as important, obvious candidates to replace him are thin on the ground.

At some stage, it may help everyone for Guardiola to make his intentions clear and with that in mind one imagines Haaland would have asked the question when agreeing to sign from Dortmund.

As we saw on Wednesday amid the rarefied chaos of the Bernabeu, this City team need a steadying hand from their coach from time to time. They do not quite perform on autopilot in the very big moments like, for example, Klopp’s Liverpool side do.

If he leaves City without conquering Europe, it'll be a disappointment that stays with him

If he leaves City without conquering Europe, it’ll be a disappointment that stays with him

Wednesday night must have been dreadful for Guardiola and his players. They were the better team over the course of two games against Real and led from the third minute of the first match until the depths of stoppage time in the second. But still they did not win.

That experience leaves a mark on players, it infiltrates and widens the fractures of spirit and belief already left by things like last season’s final loss to Chelsea. Already, next season’s Champions League campaign feels difficult. The baggage City bring to the start line will be significant.

A European campaign next season with everyone knowing or fearing it is Guardiola’s last will be even more challenging. Just imagine the pressure.

On the blue half of Manchester, they sit and they wait and they pray for white smoke.

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