Pep Guardiola has warned that "in the big clubs when you don't win, always you are in trouble," as his Bayern Munich team prepare to take on Manchester United in Tuesday evening's Champions League tie.
The Spaniard's comments will be noted at Old Trafford, where David Moyes has overseen a dismal first season as manager. United host Bayern in the quarter-final first leg, with the Scot's side in seventh position, 17 points behind Liverpool.
When asked if it was fair that some blame is being attached to Sir Alex Ferguson for this performance, due to the squad he left Moyes, Guardiola said: "In the big clubs when you don't win, always you are in trouble. You have to look forward and win games. Here, in Spain, in Italy, you have to win in the big clubs.
"In the big clubs that happens. It happens in Bayern Munich. Last year they won everything and we try to maintain that level and we did it at least in the local competition. Manchester United in the last 10-15 years have dominated the Premier League and Europe too, arriving in many finals.
"Football is special. Sometimes many, many things happen that it's difficult to understand. I don't know how Sir Alex Ferguson can have a bad influence on this club. I think it's completely opposite. This club was the best club in England thanks to him. He reorganised the club and put the club on another level in this country.
"Before it was Liverpool. I'm happy Liverpool are coming back because they are playing awesome and they deserve to be there. It's good for the Champions League next season. But I am pretty sure Alex Ferguson was the most important person in this club's history, at least in the last half-century."
Guardiola does have sympathy for Moyes. "What happens, good things or bad things to all the coaches around the world, I know can happen to me tomorrow," he said. "No one can have the secrets to eternal success. No one can win titles without big players and I was lucky throughout my career to have big, big players. I have a lot of respect for my colleagues and, when Manchester United decided to take David Moyes, it is because they are able to do it. Sometimes you need a little more time. The decisions of Manchester United are always right. They know he is a good coach and did a good job at Everton."
Guardiola joked that he might have been offered the post as manager during a dinner with Ferguson in summer 2012 but could not understand his accent. "He invited me in a super restaurant," said the Bayern coach. "We spent a very good time and my English is not so good when Sir Alex spoke quickly I didn't understand him so maybe I didn't understand if I received an offer or not. It was a friendly dinner, like always he has with me. He was so gentle and we spend a very good time together."
Despite Bayern being the competition holders and having won their domestic title with seven games remaining, Guardiola is clear his side have to perform on Tuesday evening. "If we play like against Hoffenheim [when Bayern drew 3-3 at the weekend] we are not going to win, I am sure of that, we will be eliminated. But if we play sometimes in a good level, we will have our chances. But the most important thing is the players know that."
Of his midfielder Toni Kroos, who is coveted by Moyes, Guardiola added: "Toni has one year more of a contract and Toni will remain there. I hope he can extend his contract and stay with us because he is a very good guy, he loves his game, it is not just a job for him and I would like him to stay but I spoke with the player, with the club. I gave my opinion. After that I am not manager. I am just the trainer."