You might be able to make an educated guess of two of the three idols Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he has – basketball star Michael Jordan and golf great Tiger Woods. That makes sense given Guardiola is also a sporting great.
The third just might prove a little trickier.
Following Manchester City’s thumping victory over RB Leipzig, the Spanish manager revealed that Julia Roberts is that third idol.
“Julia Roberts years ago came to Manchester – not in the 1990s when Alex (Ferguson) was winning titles and titles and titles,” Guardiola told reporters on Tuesday. “She came in the period where we were better than United, in these four or five years, right?”
Since Guardiola’s appointment, City has won four Premier League titles, while United last won an English top-flight title back in 2012.
“And she went to visit Manchester United,” continued Guardiola as he warmed to his theme. “She didn’t come to see us. That’s why even if I win the Champions League it will not compare for the fact that Julia Roberts came to Manchester and didn’t come to see us.
“Even if I win the Champions League it will not compare to this disappointment I had,” Guardiola quipped, saying he is a “failure.”
Guardiola was referring to Roberts’ trip to Manchester in 2016 in which she was attendance for United’s 1-1 draw with West Ham. She was photographed on the Old Trafford pitch after the game while her kids kicked a ball around.
United were quick to have a little fun at Guardiola’s comments, posting on Twitter three photos of Roberts on the Old Trafford pitch with the caption: “Throwing it back to when Julia Roberts visited Old Trafford.”
‘My super strength is scoring goals’
In Man City’s emphatic victory, Erling Haaland turned in another record-breaking performance as he scored five goals in dominant performance.
Haaland score a first-half hat-trick before adding two more goals after the interval in City’s 7-0 win over the German side to complete an 8-1 aggregate victory over two legs in their last-16 tie.
Haaland was given a standing ovation by fans at the Etihad Stadium when he was substituted in the 63rd minute on Tuesday.
İlkay Gündoğan and Kevin De Bruyne grabbed the other two goals as City cruised into the Champions League quarterfinals.
But the evening was all about Haaland and his seemingly insatiable desire to put the ball in the back of the net.
The 22-year-old surpassed numerous records over the course of the game; notably becoming City’s highest goalscorer in a single season as broke Tommy Johnson’s record of 38 goals set in 1928/29.
The Norwegian international now has 39 goals in 36 games – and it’s only March.
Haaland also became the fastest and youngest player to reach 30 goals in the Champions League, as well as the youngest player to score five times in a single Champions League game.
Lionel Messi and Luiz Adriano are the only other players to have scored five goals in a Champions League match.
“My super strength is scoring goals,” Haaland told BT Sport. “A lot of it is being quick in the mind and trying to put it where the goalkeeper is not.
“I was so tired after my celebrations,” he then quipped.
City manager Guardiola lavished praised on the prolific Haaland.
“Five goals, what can I say?” Guardiola said. “I said many times, he’s a joyful guy. His mood in the locker room is always happiness.
“He is a gift to all of us. He is a huge competitor, his mentality is there. He scored five goals which is not easy.”
The Norwegian striker now has five hat-tricks this season and looks set to smash the record for the most goals in a Premier League season – he currently has 28 and the record is 34 held by Alan Shearer and Andy Cole, with City still to play 11 league games.
And it wasn’t just the volume of goals which astounded on-lookers on Tuesday, it was the variety of the finishes.
From decisively slotting home from the penalty spot for his opener to being first to every rebound or loss clearance to punish Leipzig the irrepressible Haaland showed why he is such a goalscoring predator.
Guardiola, who was Messi’s coach at Barcelona in 2012 when he scored five goals against Bayer Leverkusen, said he didn’t know at the time when he substituted Haaland that the Norwegian had equaled the Argentine’s record.
“If he achieves this milestone at 22, his life will be boring!” Guardiola said. “Now he has a target to do it in the future, that’s why I made the substitution.
“I didn’t know it happened with Messi, they told me. I made a substitution because normally when a game is over and I want use as many players as possible.”