It is a measure of the way Pep Guardiola’s mind works that the Manchester City boss can start a post-match news conference talking about his star striker scoring five goals, take aim at the social media critics of his selections and end by lamenting a trip to Old Trafford more than six years ago by his “idol” Julia Roberts.
But that was Guardiola at Etihad Stadium an hour after his side had beaten RB Leipzig 7-0. Even his normally chatty media officer was left virtually speechless at the unexpected direction Guardiola’s thought process had taken him.
We might have guessed he was in a playful mood from his initial reaction to being asked to talk through Haaland’s performance.
“Five goals…” he said.
Eventually, he added a bit more: “The problem for this guy is if he doesn’t score two or three goals he will be criticised.”
Guardiola appeared to be articulating something that had long been bothering him.
He was then asked if Haaland, who has now scored 39 goals this season, was the player who could finally turn City into Champions League winners.
“Always we have scored goals in the Champions League,” he countered. “We scored four against Madrid, six against Monaco, four against Tottenham.
“The problem is not scoring goals, it is conceding stupid goals.”
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It was after that Guardiola trained his sights on those who have been carping about the absence of Phil Foden at times, or Kevin de Bruyne, or Riyad Mahrez, or anyone who was not in his starting XI on any given day, and why he plays four central defenders, as he did on Tuesday evening with John Stones and Nathan Ake occupying the full-back berths.
“With the selection, if we win I am right, if we lose I am wrong,” he said.
“But I have a lot of information even you [the media] don’t have.
“Bernardo on the left side is amazing. Bernardo has the ability to press three players in two movements. No player in the world can do that. He is so intelligent. Leipzig are very good on the left side. That’s why he played.
“I have more info than the Twitter guys. I am sorry. Today I am right. I am right.”
Now Guardiola was on a roll. Anyone asking a question could forget about getting a serious answer.
A journalist who had spoken to Haaland and been told the Norwegian would have liked to stay on the pitch to try and become the first player to score six goals in a Champions League game got this: “If he achieves this milestone at 22, his life would be boring. Now he has a target to do it in the future.”
Which brings us to Roberts. The Pretty Woman star is part of the same agency as former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho. Her children are known to be big football fans.
In November 2016, she went to Old Trafford with her family to watch United play West Ham and was pictured on the pitch afterwards.
Guardiola had been at City five months at the time. He has waited six and a half years to tell his story.
“I have three idols in my life,” he said. “Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods and Julia Roberts.
“Julia Roberts years ago came to Manchester, not in the period of Alex Ferguson when they were winning title after title, in the last four or five years when we were better than them. But she didn’t come to see us. She went to visit Man United.
“Even if I win the Champions League, it will not [ease] the disappointment of Julia Roberts going to United. My idol.”
I don’t think he was being serious.