Pep Guardiola admitted Manchester City must ‘seduce’ their supporters to back them in the Champions League.
The City boss revealed that a poll of fans revealed that they would rather win the Premier League than the Champions League.
Attendances are generally down for group stage matches, although City are estimating a crowd in the region of 48,000 for tonight’s clash with Croatian champions Dinamo Zagreb.
Guardiola said: "We are going to try to seduce our fans. All I can do is say to our fans: “Come to join us and support us, these guys deserve it”.
"It is impossible to do it alone, without the feeling that we want to do it and are able to do it. The fans must know that without them and without the nice environments it’s impossible.
"That’s a reality of our club, we have to accept it. We have to seduce them so they realise how it’s important.
"I know for the fans it’s the Premier League that is most exciting. We know that as a club, we’ve done polls and the people prefer by far to win the Premier League than the Champions League.
"I know how special it is. But this competition is nice too. They have to live it as a dream. We have outrageous players, they want to win and make a step forward too. We need the fans."
City have embarked on their ninth consecutive season in the Champions League but a fractured relationship with UEFA has done nothing to make the competition more appealing.
Group C is hardly a mouth-watering prospect either, with Dinamo, Shakhtar Donetsk and Atalanta not exactly alluring fixtures.
As well as sensible pricing strategies — tickets start from £20 — City have handed out hundreds of free tickets to local schools, while Guardiola conceded that the club do not hold Europe’s most prestigious prize in the same esteem as some of their rivals.
"I think it’s because in the past, a whole generation, they were not there in this competition at our club," he added. "We were at home, in the bars, drinking beer watching Liverpool and Manchester United for decades.
"That’s the culture of the club. We are making steps as a club. I’ve a feeling we are closer but this competition is at a high level, anything can happen. Sometimes it takes a few years and sometimes longer. Barcelona is the club in my heart but 1992 was the first trophy. And Barcelona was born a long, long time ago. They’ve been in it every season since they were born."
"They have to live the competition like a dream." 💙
It is why, to Guardiola’s mind at least, City should not be favourites to lift this year’s trophy. He feels that to win it, the whole club needs to be engaged and it is why he raised the issue of atmosphere with chief executive Ferran Soriano and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak towards the end of his first season.
"If I don’t win I’m not going to kill myself, I promise," he said. "I will try my best for the next period.
"My first press conference in the first year here it was the same question, people said, “You are here to win the Champions League”, and I said: “OK”. I spoke with Khaldoon and Ferran and they didn’t tell me that. Of course we are going to try. I’d be happier if we won it."
City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is expected to miss tonight’s game with an ankle injury.