Pep Guardiola has attempted to ease expectations on Manchester City in the Champions League by drawing comparisons with Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan.
City are bidding to win Europe’s elite club competition for the first time after years of near misses since Guardiola took over as manager in 2016.
Likening the team to Nicklaus and Jordan, all-time greats in golf and basketball respectively, may not seem an immediately obvious way to alleviate pressure but, over long careers, they had more fallow years than successful ones.
Nicklaus, for example, may have won a record 18 major tournaments but he played in 164 of them and was also runner-up 19 times. Jordan was a six-time NBA champion but also endured frustration in his 15-year career.
Guardiola, a two-time winner with Barcelona, continues his latest attempt to guide City to glory when he faces another of his former clubs in Bayern Munich in a quarter-final first leg on Tuesday.
He said: “We want to try. It’s an honour to be here against an elite club like Bayern Munich and I’m happy to be here. It’s not (taken) for granted. You have to deserve it in by playing good in two games.
“We want to try like we try all the time but it doesn’t mean we are going to win.
“Yesterday, it was the Masters. How many Masters has Jack Nicklaus played or majors has he played in his career, in 30-40 years as a golfer? How many wins out of 164? Eighteen wins.
“Wow. He loses more than he wins. That is sport. In football, in golf, in basketball.
“Michael Jordan, the best athlete for me in basketball, won six NBA titles out of 15 years. He loses more than he wins.
“In this game, all games are so difficult. What is important is to be here, compete well, do our best. No more than that.”
The last-eight tie brings Guardiola up against an old foe in Thomas Tuchel, who recently took over at Bayern after the sacking of Julian Nagelsmann.
Tuchel was the Chelsea manager when the London side beat City in the 2021 final.
Guardiola said: “I was sad but I congratulated him and Chelsea for the victory. It happened.
“I reviewed the game a month later. It was not as bad as I thought but it was not at all a good enough performance to win it.
“It was a tight, tight game like they always were against Chelsea in that period but we forget it and try again.”
City, whose only notable absentee is Phil Foden after his recent appendix operation, could also face a reunion with full-back Joao Cancelo.
The 28-year-old joined Bayern on loan from City in January and is eligible to play against his parent club.
City defender and Portugal team-mate Ruben Dias said: “I must confess it will be strange.
“Not very long ago we were fighting together, but it is what it is, it is football.”
Dias added that City will be fully focused on success.
He said: “I think the anger is the same as always. It is a special competition and we really want to be in it and see it through.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub