Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has played down the club’s wait for Champions League glory, comparing them with Jack Nicklaus and Michael Jordan.
City have thus far been unable to replicate their domestic dominance on the European stage – a charge also levelled at Guardiola since leaving Barcelona more than a decade ago.
They can take another step towards rectifying that when they face another of the Spaniard’s former clubs, Bayern Munich, in a Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday night.
But Guardiola insists that the failures that littered the careers of even the greatest sportspeople show that success is far less common.
“How many Masters has Jack Nicklaus played or [golf] majors has he played in his career? How many wins out of 164 tries?” said the City boss.
“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 14 years. He loses more than he wins. What is important is to be here, compete well, do our best. No more than that. I live my profession that way.
“After that if I lose, I lose. I’m not perfect. What is important is we are still there after winning what we won last season. That is my biggest compliment that I can give our team.”
Guardiola won two Champions Leagues in a glittering four seasons in charge of Barcelona but has struggled to replicate that European success since.
At Bayern he won three Bundesliga titles but never made it past the Champions League semi-finals, while at Manchester City he has won four Premier League crowns in six years yet only reached one Champions League final.
That came in 2021, when his side lost to a Chelsea team coached by Thomas Tuchel, who last month took charge at Bayern. Guardiola played down the scars from that defeat.
“I was sad but I congratulated him and Chelsea for the victory. It happened,” he said.
“I reviewed the game a month later. It was not as bad as I thought but at the same time it was not at all a good enough performance to win it.
“It was a tight, tight game like they always have been against Chelsea in that period. Forget it and try again.”
City have hit top form ahead of the first leg with Bayern in Manchester, having won eight games in a row in all competitions and scored 21 in their last four matches alone.