Guardiola must improve Man City's mood quickly after Arsenal defeat - Jermaine Jenas
I don't see Manchester City's failure to win a trophy as a disaster for Pep Guardiola, but finishing outside the Premier League's top four would be unacceptable.
Expectations were so high when Guardiola arrived in England because he had won silverware in each of his previous seasons as a manager, dating back to 2008.
So a trophy in his first year in charge at City was seen by many people as the benchmark for success, but it was never a given and I don't think he ever thought it would be that easy either.
By now, he knows how gruelling a Premier League season really is, and has probably changed some of his plans for new signings accordingly.
Sunday's defeat by Arsenal in the FA Cup semi-final underlined exactly how much there is for him to work on, and I am sure he will embrace that challenge.
But to carry out those plans, and get the new players he wants and needs, City simply have to be in the Champions League next season.
'Guardiola must pick up his players quickly'
This is Guardiola's biggest moment as City manager, because has to make sure his players are ready to perform in the Manchester derby on Thursday.
They will be very disappointed because they put a lot into the semi-final, and the game going to extra time will not help their preparation either.
Guardiola has to pick them up and turn the mood around. It is all about him now, and what he can do about the situation City are in.
United reduced the gap between themselves and City to a point by beating Burnley on Sunday and they are in the ascendancy right now after making it to the semi-finals of the Europa League as well.
I don't think City need to beat them, because just avoiding defeat would be a huge psychological boost.
'City will make top four - but it will be tough'
The United game is not make or break but, after being knocked out of the FA Cup, City definitely need a lift to set themselves up for the run-in.
If you look at their remaining games after they play Jose Mourinho's side, they might appear simple when compared with United's run-in.
|Man City||Man Utd|
|27 Apr: Man Utd (h)||27 Apr: Man City (a)|
|30 Apr: Middlesbro (a)||30 Apr: Swansea (h)|
|6 May: C Palace (h)||7 May: Arsenal (a)|
|13 May: Leicester (h)||14 May: Tottenham (a)|
|16 May: West Brom (h)||17 May: Southampton (a)|
|21 May: Watford (a)||21 May: C Palace (h)|
But, apart from their win over Hull at the start of April, I don't remember City having a really comfortable game at Etihad Stadium for some time, regardless of the opposition.
Teams have sat back against them and been hard to break down, a bit like Arsenal did in the first half at Wembley.
Losing David Silva so early on against the Gunners was a big blow, and it will hurt City's chances if his injury turns out to be a serious one.
I still think City will make the top four, but it is going to be tough.
'City were too predictable going forward'
In the next month, City will need their star attacking players to perform better than they did against Arsenal.
The Gunners looked far more dangerous when they attacked. When Danny Welbeck came on late in normal time, I felt the tide turn in their favour because his pace gave City's defence a different test.
Arsene Wenger's gameplan was very good, of course, but City just seemed to lack something going forward and their build-up play was too slow and too predictable.
I could see Guardiola on the sidelines screaming at Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane to run in behind the Arsenal defence. They did not really test the Gunners' back three - as good as those defenders were.
Don't get me wrong, City's players did not let him down - they gave everything they had, but it was not good enough.
'Yaya the biggest positive for Pep'
Probably the biggest positive for Guardiola was Yaya Toure, because I thought he was absolutely sensational - the best player on the pitch.
Toure did everything he could to pick City up and drag them into the final on his own. It wasn't enough but if he can maintain that kind of form, then he could make the difference to City's top-four prospects.
When Guardiola is making plans for next season, I think 100% that Toure should be part of them.
He turns 34 in May and is out of contract in the summer but he showed against the Gunners how much he still has to offer.
Toure's problem is that he is entering the stage of his career where you have to adjust the team to suit his game - he is at his best when he is going forward but, when he does that, other people need to provide some protection.
That is why there could be a split. I don't think Guardiola wants to build his side around any individuals, because his vision is always a complete team.
If Toure is prepared to sit on the bench then he could still have a part to play at City next season. If he's not, I can see him leaving, although he clearly still has so much class.