Noel Gallagher on Guardiola & Man City

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May 29, 2021
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    Man City boss Pep Guardiola and Noel GallagherNoel Gallagher was the first person to interview Pep Guardiola when he arrived in Manchester after taking charge of City in the summer of 2016

    You can listen to live coverage of the Champions League final on BBC Radio 5 Live and the BBC Sport website, with coverage starting at 18:00 BST on Saturday. Kick-off is at 20:00 BST.

    It's Noel Gallagher's birthday on Saturday – but will the famous Manchester City fan get to celebrate turning 54 by watching his team beat Chelsea and lift the Champions League trophy for the first time?

    Gallagher, whose High Flying Birds celebrate their 10th anniversary with a greatest hits compilation 'Back The Way We Came: Vol 1' next month, talked to BBC Sport about promises from City's owners, conversations with Pep Guardiola – and City's chances in Portugal on Saturday.

    'Now is the right time for City in the Champions League'

    The Old Trafford banner that showed how long City were waiting for a trophyThe banner at Old Trafford showing how many years City had gone without a trophy was taken down in 2011 when City won the FA Cup. Since then, City have won five Premier League titles, six League Cups and one more FA Cup. It is United who are waiting for silverware now – after winning nothing again this season, they are trophyless since 2017

    Noel: What Manchester City have done is exactly what the owners said would happen.

    When they came in and said they were determined to turn us into one of the biggest clubs in Europe and the world, all I was thinking was, I don't care what you do, as long as that banner comes down at Old Trafford, the one showing how long we'd been without a trophy.

    I remember meeting [City chairman] Khaldoon Al Mubarak at the start and telling him that and he was adamant, saying 'oh no no no, it's going to be much greater than that'.

    I was like 'whatever' but my God they have been true to their word and it has just been an amazing journey that the club has been on.

    It feels like quite a neat anniversary – we've had 10 years of the High Flying Birds and 10 years of City in the Champions League. Not only that but it's my birthday on Saturday and I'm going to be in Porto, so it's a big day all round.

    Noel GallagherNoel has unveiled a new track called We're On Our Way Now, about not getting a chance to say goodbye – fortunately he and thousands of other City fans had the opportunity to bid Sergio Aguero farewell on Sunday, after his final appearance at Etihad Stadium

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    I've had 10 great years as a solo artist and City have had a great 10 years, so it has been an amazing decade really. I'm glad the Champions League has not come easy, either.

    I remember when we won the Premier League in 2012, I was doing something on the radio after the QPR game and they were saying to me 'the Champions League has got to be next'.

    I remember replying 'actually, I don't want it to be next, it shouldn't be that easy'.

    I wanted it to be a bit of a trip, something we had to work for. We haven't won it yet, obviously, but after 10 years, we have got to our first final and it feels like now is the right time – we have earned it.

    When I first went solo, within six months I'd sold out the O2 in London and I felt like a bit of fraud doing gigs that big, because I felt like I hadn't really put the hours in as a solo artist.

    It would have been the same if we had won the Premier League in 2012 and gone straight on and walked the Champions League in 2013. We are ready to do it now though.

    'Pep is not just a great manager, he's a winner'

    City boss Pep Guardiola meets Noel Gallagher in July 2016Pep's first day as City manager was 4 July 2016. Gallagher met him that day – at the same time as City captain Vincent Kompany – and interviewed him when he arrived at the club's training complex

    Noel: I interviewed Pep straight after he arrived in Manchester when he took the City job in 2016. The club phoned me up and said 'we've got this idea for his first day, would you do it?'.

    I was thinking 'really? Should it be me?' but obviously I really wanted to do it, and I did. It was funny because when I got there to do that interview, Vinnie Kompany was there, but he hadn't met him yet – me and Vinnie met Pep at exactly the same time, which was quite a moment.

    So, we do the interview and after the interview when the cameras had stopped rolling, he kind of did that thing where he looks you in the eye, and he said 'right, tell me about the fans, tell me about the history of the supporters and this club'. He wanted to know everything.

    The filming had stopped so he wasn't just playing up to the cameras. I was telling him about the year in the third division, and going up and going down, and the Gillingham game, and how we were averaging 30,000 when we weren't even in the Premier League.

    I have got to know him a little bit since then and I can tell you now, he is the real deal.

    You can tell he loves Manchester. He's moved into the city centre and he has never left to buy a big house in Cheshire. I wouldn't be surprised if he signs another contract after this one too.

    Pep Guardiola and Noel Gallagher celebrate City's Carabao Cup win at Wembley in 2020Guardiola and Gallagher get their hands on the Carabao Cup after City's win over Aston Villa at Wembley in 2020. In total, Guardiola has won three Premier League titles, one FA Cup and four Carabao Cups in five years at City.

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    Pep's brought incredible success too. Putting City to one side for a second, he has actually bent English football to his will.

    Everyone does that thing he is famous for now, playing out from the keeper, even the teams at the bottom. So he has elevated English football which is a staggering achievement to be able to say that when, at the end of his first season here, when he had not won a thing, all the pundits were like 'told you'.

    He had to front that out but he came back and not only won the title the following year, he changed the way we play the game.

    What he has done with City after that first year is incredible. I remember speaking to him at the dawn of his second season, when he was under incredible pressure – the entire football world was laughing in his face and he had just been told he was going to be followed 24 hours a day by a film crew for a documentary.

    That's pressure. Anyway, we were chatting away and he just said 'I've got the players I want now, I'm sure we're going to win this league'. I was like 'ok' but he was right, we absolutely smashed it.

    Noel Gallagher and Man City boss Pep GuardiolaNoel and Pep celebrate City's Premier League title triumph at Etihad Stadium in 2018, at the end of his second season in charge

    Once he got all the people in place, there has not been any looking back really. And last season when Liverpool won the league, we lost it. They didn't win it, we lost it – because of Vinnie leaving and injuries and all that.

    Otherwise I think we'd be looking at four in a row now, if it hadn't been for that blip.

    When he came he had this reputation of this tiki-taka thing and having the belief that style was the most important thing – there was Plan A, and if Plan A doesn't work you've got to get an even better Plan A, not have a Plan B.

    What I love about this season is he got to December and changed.

    What manager in the world has ever come out before mid-season like that and said you know what, I don't like this team now, I don't like it, I don't like what I'm seeing, I'm going to go back to basics and start again…

    That's what he did, and it worked. What's been brought home to me this season is that he's not just a great manager with a great philosophy and all that kind of thing – he's a winner.

    If he won every game 1-0, it wouldn't bother him. If we won the league by one goal, he wouldn't care. He's a winner, and he's to be cherished while he's here, that's for sure.

    This Premier League title is special – Guardiola

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    So, will City win the Champions League final?

    Noel: In any one-off game, it doesn't always matter who the better team is. A red card or a penalty can decide it.

    But I look at Saturday's game this way – City at our best beats Chelsea at their best, nine times out of 10. The 10th one goes to extra time and penalties, and we lose.

    I think we'll win it but I don't think it's going to be the walkover some people are expecting.

    They are going to park the bus and hit us on the break. If we score early then the score could be anything, but I think it will be tighter than that.

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