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Irish Mirror
Irish Mirror
Andy Dunn

Pep Guardiola's legacy is secure without Champions League - despite Erling Haaland claim

Leaving aside the slightly bizarre Julia Roberts comments, Pep Guardiola knows winning the Champions League - or not winning the Champions League - will, to a large extent, define his time at Manchester City.

The argument goes that it is, ultimately, what he was employed to do and that he has certainly been given the resources to make the task possible. It is a compelling argument but let’s get one thing straight. If Guardiola walks away from the Etihad without having won Europe’s blue riband prize, he will be no failure.

How could any manager who has produced a brand of football that has been consistently brilliant over a period not far short of seven years be seen as a failure?

Yes, of course City’s shortcomings in the late stages of the Champions League are scars on his statistical record. Yes, he will be desperate to go all the way and win the final in Istanbul this season. But there can be vagaries in knockout competition and City have been on the wrong end of a few in recent times.

If any of the 101 charges of financial breaches of Premier League regulations stick, then Guardiola’s body of work in Manchester will be seriously undermined, make no mistake about that. But, for now, let’s go down the innocent until proven guilty route.

And the seven goals against RB Leipzig on Tuesday night were a reminder of the legacy that Guardiola will eventually leave. That legacy might not include the sought-after Champions League but it will include some of the most mesmeric football the modern generation of football fan has seen.

Pep Guardiola is yet to win the Champions League with Man City (Getty Images)

Do you agree with Andy Dunn? Let us know in the comments below!

Consider this. In the seven seasons Guardiola has been at City - including this current unfinished one - his team have scored four or more goals in a single game on NINETY-SIX occasions. For comparison, Manchester United have done that 37 times.

In his 394 matches as City manager, Guardiola’s team has averaged over 2.3 goals a game and won 290 of those matches. His main rival in most of that time has been Jurgen Klopp and his sides have averaged 2.06 goals a game. But this current Liverpool campaign shows just how hard it is to maintain sky-high standards year after year after year.

City will be expected to progress regardless of who they pull out of the hat in Nyon on Friday. They are the bookmakers favourites for the competition, even though there are some formidable teams left in the draw. And don’t forget, the current Premier League table tells you City are not even the best side in England at the moment.

But Erling Haaland had a valid point when he suggested the City hierarchy had not brought him to Manchester to help win the Premier League... because they were doing that with regularity already. And if Pep’s team again falls short in Europe - and he never wins the Champions League with City - it will be a significant disappointment. But Guardiola will not be a failure.

Cheltenham thoughts

Runners and riders in action during the Jack De Bromhead Mares' Novices' Hurdle on day three of the Cheltenham Festival (PA)

There is a surefire way to burn your way through any savings you might have... own a National Hunt horse. Let’s say your horse was actually a decent sort, who managed to win the 5.50 at Huntingdon on Wednesday.

The first prize for that race was a princely £2,178. Not bad? Well, take away the trainer’s cut, the jockey’s fee and cut, the vet’s bills, the transportation (most yards charge around £1 per mile) and there’s just about enough left to pay for the hay.

The Irish are again running riot at the Cheltenham Festival and one simple reason for their domination is that prize money over there is far higher than it is here, making racehorse ownership more attractive and, hence, more competitive.

Considering the amount of money that goes through the bookmakers here, the prize money in the UK is pitiful. And as long as it stays that way, the Festival will continue to be a glorious benefit week for the Irish.

Have faith in Emma

Emma Raducanu celebrated her victory over Danka Kovinic at Indian Wells Masters despite not feeling 100% (Mike Frey/Getty Images)

Emma Raducanu won three matches at the high-profile Indian Wells tournament before being beaten by world number one Iga Swiatek. Her run in the event should leave the 20-year-old around the 70-mark in the world rankings.

And if she had not won THAT US Open in 2021, it would be seen as encouraging progression for a young British player, especially one who has had more than her fair share of growing pains.

Sometimes, when judging Raducanu, it might be best to try and pretend the miracle of Flushing Meadows never actually happened.

Don't write off Fury

Tyson Fury lost a £100,000 bet after his half-brother failed to stop Jake Paul inside eight rounds (Getty Images)

There are still plenty of people out there who remain unconvinced Tyson Fury’s fight with Oleksandr Usyk will go ahead on April 29. And there are actually some people out there who believe Fury has been trying to duck a meeting with the brilliant Ukrainian.

Whether or not it happens at the end of next month remains to be seen but the idea Fury might, deep down, want to avoid Usyk is preposterous.

This is the man who got into the ring in the States with the hardest-hitting heavyweight of recent times, got flattened by him, got up, drew the fight and then went in with him not once again but twice again. Whatever you think of him, Fury is scared of no-one.

More big hitters, please

(Phelan M Ebenhack/AP/REX/Shutterstock)

After six years of research, the Royal and Ancient and the United States Golf Association want to introduce new measures that would alter the characteristics of the modern ball and reduce the driving distance of elite golfers by up to 15 yards.

Has there been a sillier idea in sport as a result of such extensive research? The plan comes from fears that great golf courses will be ‘overpowered’ by big-hitters. But those fears exist only in their notoriously insular world.

Big-hitting and birdies is what the average fan wants to see - they want to look in wonderment at a 340-yard Rory McIlroy tee shot.

And quite frankly, whether someone shoots 12 over or 12 under to win, say, the Masters is an irrelevance.

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