Pep Guardiola has challenged Erling Haaland to become a Manchester City legend after the Norway striker’s second successive hat-trick inspired a 6-0 rout of Nottingham Forest on Wednesday.
Haaland demolished Forest with a blistering 26-minute treble in the first half at the Etihad Stadium, just four days after he scored three against Crystal Palace.
The 22-year-old is the first player in the Premier League era to net nine times in his first five appearances in the competition, breaking a record shared by former City icon Sergio Aguero and Micky Quinn.
Haaland still has a long way to go to catch up with Aguero, City’s record scorer, but Guardiola is confident his close-season signing from Borussia Dortmund can write himself into the club’s folklore.
“Sergio is the legend. Nobody can break the position in the hearts of City fans, scoring the most important goal in the modern history,” Guardiola said.
“Erling has the quality to be there. It’s not about him or Sergio. What Sergio has done is amazing. But Erling has this talent.
“When City bought Erling, everybody talked about what he has done in the past. What we wanted to do is help him. Hopefully he can enjoy and score more goals.
“What he has done in Norway, Austria and Germany he tries to do here. He’s talented, we knew it.”
Haaland is already the firm favourite to finish as this season’s Premier League top scorer.
But Guardiola insists helping champions City retain the title would mean more to his striker than any personal accolades.
“I think what we want is win the titles. If the record and the goals help to win it will be perfect,” he said.
“Knowing him a little bit, I don’t know if he’d be happy breaking records if we didn’t win titles.
“I think he wants to be part of that. The better we play, he’ll have more chances to score goals.”
A dispirited Pep Guardiola has summed up the heart-wrenching Champions League semi-final loss to Real Madrid by admitting that the manner of his side’s 6-5 aggregate defeat was ‘tough’ to accept.
City appeared to be heading to a second successive final when Riyad Mahrez put them two goals ahead in the tie with 17 minutes left, but Rodrygo had other thoughts when he struck twice in the 90th and 91st minutes to force extra time.
And a 94th-minute penalty from Karim Benzema made sure the English side were left to rue their errors and kept Real Madrid’s hopes of a 14th Champions League trophy alive.
Asked about a possible swoop for Haaland, City boss Guardiola would not be drawn on the speculation when he spoke to reporters on Tuesday.
“No answer to your question,” he said ahead of Wednesday’s Premier League clash with Brighton.
“I have another concern and business in my head right now than to think what will happen in this club next season.”
Premier League leaders City have lacked a prolific striker this season following the departure of record goalscorer Sergio Aguero last year.
After failing in a high-profile attempt to sign Harry Kane from Tottenham last year, Haaland would fit the bill as the kind of lethal finisher City require.
But with City in the middle of a battle to retain the Premier League title and win a first Champions League crown, Guardiola was keen to focus on the present rather than future deals.
“We don’t know what is going to happen in the future. For many years I never talk about transfer windows, especially when we have incredible things to play for this season,” Guardiola said.
City are one point clear of Liverpool in the Premier League and the Reds can temporarily go top if they avoid defeat against Manchester United on Tuesday.
Their hopes of a treble ended on Saturday as they were beaten 3-2 by Liverpool in the FA Cup semi-finals at Wembley.
Guardiola had made seven changes for that clash as his players felt the effects of the previous Wednesday’s bruising Champions League tie at Atletico Madrid.
Asked if he had any regrets about his selection at Wembley, Guardiola said: “No. I understand the opinions of my fans. They have all my respect to give their opinions but my selection was for many reasons.
“Kevin (De Bruyne) wasn’t ready, Kyle (Walker) wasn’t ready, (Ilkay) Gundogan wasn’t ready. They (the players who played) were ready.”
De Bruyne and Gundogan are back in contention for the Brighton game, but Walker remains sidelined with an ankle injury.
“For tomorrow he is not available. We will see how he reacts with his ankle,” Guardiola said.
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola admits he has sympathy for Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel after the European champions were hit by tough sanctions placed on Blues owner Roman Abramovich.
The Russian billionaire was one of seven oligarchs targeted Thursday by the UK government following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, all described as part of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Abramovich last week announced he was selling the club but now his UK assets have been frozen, with strict restrictions placed on Chelsea, including over the signing of new players and ticket sales.
Tuchel, as the face of Chelsea, has found himself in the position of de facto club spokesman on the Abramovich situation in recent weeks.
Guardiola, speaking to the reporters, conceded it was an awkward situation for a football manager to deal with.
“When there was Covid we were asked to talk like doctors on the medicine, the vaccines,” he said. “It looks like when we speak here we have to know absolutely everything.
“We are the face of the club, we are right here every three days, so you ask whatever you want, but you have to understand that there are subjects we don’t know, and we don’t have a one-hour lesson to speak or talk about what you are asking for.
“It’s uncomfortable and I feel sorry for them because they are there to do the jobs as well as possible.”
The sanctions cast uncertainty over the immediate future of Chelsea, who had been linked with a series of potential new billionaire owners over the past week.
Asked about the implications of a Premier League rival being so dramatically hampered, Guardiola would only say: “I don’t have enough opinions, sorry. I saw the headlines but I don’t know exactly the reason why what happened.
“The reason why there is this ban? I don’t know the reason why. For something wrong with the club? For the war in Ukraine? Europe? Russia? I don’t know.”
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has tested positive for Covid-19 in a major outbreak at the Premier League club as Burnley also announced on Thursday that manager Sean Dyche had been sidelined by the virus.
Premier League champions City said 21 players and staff were now isolating for Covid-related reasons as the virus wreaked further havoc on English football.
“Pep Guardiola will miss tomorrow evening’s FA Cup trip to Swindon Town after testing positive for Covid-19,” the club said in a statement.
“The City manager recorded a positive test on Tuesday along with assistant Juanma Lillo. Both are now isolating, along with a number of other positive cases within the City first-team bubble.
“This brings the number of those isolating for Covid-related reasons amongst the group to 21. Of that number, 14 are backroom staff and seven are first-team players.
Despite the outbreak, the third-round FA Cup tie is still scheduled to go ahead with another of Guardiola’s assistants, Rodolfo Borrell, taking charge of the team.
The Omicron variant of coronavirus has resulted in record case numbers across Britain, forcing the postponement of many matches over the past month.
City are one of the few clubs not to have had a match called off yet and they have amassed a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League.
The first leg of Liverpool’s League Cup semi-final against Arsenal, which had been due to take place on Thursday, was rescheduled after an outbreak forced Liverpool to close their training ground.
Pep Guardiola says he will not apologise for urging fans to fill empty seats at Manchester City’s Etihad stadium after his comments irritated some of the club’s supporters.
The City boss said this week that he wanted a bigger crowd at Saturday’s home game against Southampton than the 38,062 who watched his side’s 6-3 Champions League win over RB Leipzig in midweek.
City’s poor attendances and flat atmosphere for some European games are often used as taunts by rival fans but crowds of more than 50,000 turned up to watch their opening two Premier League games.
Guardiola’s comments annoyed some supporters, who felt the manager had questioned their loyalty, but he said that was a misinterpretation of his comments.
The City manager said at his pre-match press conference on Friday: “Did I say after the game against Leipzig that I was disappointed that the stadium was not full? An interpretation is an interpretation.
“I am not going to apologise for what I said. What I said was we would love, and we need the support.
“It doesn’t matter how many people come but I invite them to come and enjoy the game because we need the support.”
Guardiola said he would never criticise fans for being unable to attend games.
“I am entirely grateful for the support that we had against Leipzig,” he said. “I never have the words to ask why people don’t come. If you can’t come then don’t come.
“If you want to come it’s a pleasure, if you don’t, then don’t.”
Kevin Parker, the general secretary of City’s official supporters club, said Thursday that Guardiola should be more appreciative of the cost for fans in time and money of attending matches.
“He doesn’t understand the difficulties that some people might have getting to a game at the Etihad on a Wednesday evening at 8:00 pm,” Parker said.
“They’ve got kids to think of, they might not be able to afford it, there are still some Covid issues about. I don’t see why he comments on it.
“He’s absolutely the best coach in the world but, in the nicest possible way, I think maybe he should stick to that.”
Pep Guardiola has ruled out a Manchester City move for Lionel Messi after Barcelona’s shock announcement that the Argentina superstar will leave the Camp Nou.
City boss Guardiola was Messi’s manager at Barcelona for four successful years and the Premier League champions were immediately linked with the forward following Thursday’s bombshell news.
But Guardiola had just wrapped up a British record £100 million ($139 million) swoop for Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish when Messi unexpectedly became a free agent.
And, speaking at a press conference on Friday, Guardiola insisted a reunion with Messi was not in his plans at present.
“Right now it is not in our thoughts (to sign Messi), absolutely not,” Guardiola said.
“We spent £40 million on Jack Grealish. £100 million we pay and £60 million we earned in the last year and he will bring the number 10 because we were convinced for Jack Grealish.
“It looked like it finished well in terms of (Messi) continuing with Barcelona. In the end, it was a surprise for everyone, I included of course, but I think Laporta was clear today the reason why.”
Barcelona president Joan Laporta said the club have been forced to end their long relationship with Messi because of “awful” financial problems inherited from the previous regime.
Messi, 34, was out of contract at the end of last season but appeared set to sign a new deal before the sudden announcement of his exit.
As well as City, Paris Saint Germain have also been suggested as suitors for Messi, who won four Champions League and 10 La Liga titles with Barcelona.
Having seen the impact made by Messi at Barcelona up close, Guardiola paid tribute to the star’s remarkable contribution to the club.
“Unfortunately, because as a supporter for my club, I would love him to finish but today the club’s sustainability is so important and what happened in the last year was really not good,” Guardiola said.
“That is why he arrives in this. I have incredible gratitude as a fan for the most extraordinary player I see in my life. Much more than the titles he helped to win Barcelona, how he helped me to be a better manager and to go to Munich and after to England.
“The incredible emotion and actions to be in front of the team and to watch him what he can do with the ball, with his mates in one football game, day by day, game by game, he would make something unique.
“Only I can say thank you so much to bring Barcelona to another level, to bring Barcelona to dominate the world during a decade with him and his mates. I of course wish him for the last years of his career the best and will not be forgotten, that’s for sure.
“Hopefully one day we can properly say the best farewell game ever. He deserves it for his contribution to this club for another level but if Laporta arrives in this situation it is unfortunately because someone before didn’t do well.”
While Manchester City had been building towards what they thought was their moment in the Champions League for five years under Pep Guardiola, Chelsea showed with their victory in Saturday’s final in Porto what can be achieved in just four months.
That is how long has elapsed since Thomas Tuchel became coach, replacing Frank Lampard with Chelsea ninth in the Premier League.
The German oversaw an immediate transformation in their fortunes, dragging them into the top four, taking them to the FA Cup final which they lost to Leicester City, and now winning the Champions League.
They have beaten Guardiola’s City for the third time in six weeks thanks to Kai Havertz’s goal, and they are champions of Europe for the second time.
Tuchel is set to reap the rewards with a handsome new contract, although whether he will be allowed to put down roots in west London remains to be seen given how managerial cycles tend to go at Stamford Bridge.
Once again a mid-season managerial sacking has worked out perfectly for Chelsea, whose 2012 Champions League triumph came following the decision to sack Andre Villas-Boas and appoint Roberto Di Matteo.
This time Chelsea have struck gold with Tuchel, but the 47-year-old would not have been able to deliver such success without the huge investment in players that came before his arrival, as well as some of the outstanding young talents who were already thriving under Lampard.
– Room for improvement –
Five of Chelsea’s line-up at the Estadio do Dragao were signed at the start of the season, including match-winner Havertz, the 71 million-pound ($100m) recruit from Bayer Leverkusen. There was also Reece James and Mason Mount, youth academy graduates who are in England’s squad for Euro 2020.
This is a team that has already conquered Europe but that appears to be just at the start of its adventure together.
“We have a strong bond, a strong group who can really defend and play and have answers on all questions in the game,” Tuchel said on Saturday.
“Once the celebrations are over and once we digest this experience, it is the moment to grow, to evolve, to learn from it and become better.”
There is huge room for improvement in the Premier League after Chelsea finished 19 points behind champions City, and a proper domestic title challenge will be expected now.
“When you play for a club like Chelsea you are always thinking in the future,” said veteran skipper Cesar Azpilicueta.
Tuchel knows full well that past success counts for little — Di Matteo was gone within six months of that 2012 victory and Tuchel himself was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain last December despite leading them to their first ever final last season.
– ‘I want the next one’ –
“When we won the Cup in Dortmund I did not arrive at the next training with less hunger, less desire or ambition,” he said.
“Of course now is the time to celebrate for some days, to enjoy and let it sink in, for one or two weeks, to talk about it and reflect on it, but then it does surprisingly not a lot to you.
“I think it’s good because nobody wants to rest. I want the next one, the next title. I want to be a part of it and I demand to be a part of it and this is what comes next.”
He was initially handed just an 18-month contract but has earned an extended deal after what he has achieved in such a short time.
“I am not even 100 percent sure, but maybe I already have a new contract now with that win. My manager said something about that but I didn’t know so let’s check this first,” he told reporters with a smile.
“My desire is to go for more victories, to grow as a coach and to push the group on the first day of next season to the limit.”
The next Premier League campaign starts on August 14, but Chelsea will play three days before that against Villarreal with an opportunity for another trophy in the UEFA Super Cup.
Manchester City’s Pep Guardiola has been named manager of the year by England’s League Managers’ Association, it was announced on Monday.
Guardiola steered City to the Premier League title and League Cup this season and this Saturday the Spaniard’s side will bid to be crowned kings of Europe for the first time when they face English rivals Chelsea in the Champions League final in Porto.
Former Barcelona and Bayern Munich manager Guardiola topped a poll where the other leading contenders were Leeds’ Marcelo Bielsa, Norwich’s Daniel Farke, Chelsea women’s manager Emma Hayes, West Ham’s David Moyes, and Leicester’s Brendan Rodgers.
“I am delighted to win the LMA Manager of the year award for the second time,” said Guardiola.
“It is, for me, such a special trophy to win because it is voted for by my fellow managers. An award like this is only possible though if a manager is surrounded by top professionals.
“My players have been fantastic — their dedication and professionalism never wavered, even in a season that has been the most challenging we have ever faced,” added the 50-year-old, whose mother died during the coronavirus pandemic.
“And my staff are also deserving of the highest praise. I am so lucky to have a team of people who give everything they have every single day to make sure Manchester City are the best we can be.
“This award is dedicated to and shared with them.”
Alex Ferguson, the multiple trophy-winning former manager of Manchester United, and now an LMA committee member, paid tribute to Guardiola by saying: “As well as being a truly gifted manager and leader, you always display admirable humility and composure and I am sure your family must be very proud of you.”
Guardiola’s award came just days after it was announced that City defender Ruben Dias had been voted the footballer of the year by England’s Football Writers Association.