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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 September 2018

Noel Gallagher on Manchester City under Pep Guardiola: It is the best I have ever seen

The musician and City supporter pays tribute to Pep Guardiola's work and impact on players such as Fabian Delph and Raheem Sterling.

Noel Gallagher, far left in the TV studio, revealed on Saturday that being able to watch the Manchester derby, which the side he supports Manchester City won 2-1, earlier in December sat next to Manchester United's former right-back Gary Neville as a TV pundit, was part of the "greatest 48 hours of my life". Michael Regan / Getty Images
Noel Gallagher, far left in the TV studio, revealed on Saturday that being able to watch the Manchester derby, which the side he supports Manchester City won 2-1, earlier in December sat next to Manchester United's former right-back Gary Neville as a TV pundit, was part of the "greatest 48 hours of my life". Michael Regan / Getty Images

It was over an hour after Manchester City had completed their demolition of Tottenham Hotspur and a man who had sold 60 million records was holding court in the bowels of the Etihad Stadium, interrupted only when players half his age stopped for a brief word.

There was a time when Noel Gallagher, Oasis’ main guitarist and songwriter, played Maine Road, 40,000 packing City’s former home in 1996. Now he delights in those who star at the Etihad.

If City’s profile was raised by Gallagher two decades ago, now he is their most famous fan.

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“I have been watching City for 43 years and I have never seen it like this,” he said. “It is the best I have ever seen, for sure. It's the best team, best team spirit, best manager.”

City’s 16th consecutive league win left even a man who wrote some of the most memorable lyrics of the 1990s claiming he was struggling to express himself.

“It was unbelievable,” he added. “I just can't put it into words any more. It’s getting embarrassing now. Every single player is playing nine out of 10 every week.

"Being a City fan, and all being English, we're thinking when is it going to end? Tottenham are a top team, with top players, they had their first team out and we mullered them.”

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A veteran of the wilderness years, too young to remember the glory days under Joe Mercer but old enough to have lived through decades of disappointment, Gallagher knows that being a City fan used to bring tragicomic disappointment. Now it requires a suspension of disbelief for those more accustomed to being outsiders.

He gives much of the credit to Pep Guardiola (“a dude”), suggesting the City manager could make him a better songwriter: “He probably could. He nearly offered me a five-year deal in the dressing room!

"We stalled at three-and-a-half a week. He's made Fabian Delph a left-back. He's turned Raheem [Sterling] into a goal machine. For a guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time most of the time, to being the guy in the right place at the right time – what can I say?”

He also highlighted the way David Silva – or “Dave” – has progressed. “If you were to say to me before the season started he was going to get 10 per cent better – that's the most impossible thing you could ever think of. It's all about our coach. He must be some wizard.”

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If footballers can be media-trained to say as little as possible, rock stars are more accustomed to generating publicity. Gallagher and his brother Liam always had a natural flair for that anyway; it has not deserted an eminently quotable figure.

Factor in a Mancunian outspokenness, hints of terrace humour and the reality that he has not had to moderate his opinions in the interests of diplomacy for a quarter of a century and Gallagher offers unique, unashamedly partisan, insight into the City phenomenon.

He was a television pundit for the Manchester derby. “I watched it about six inches away from Gary Neville.

"To do that to United at Old Trafford and see Neville having a meltdown, then for them to play one of my songs at a volume that was offensive to the most hated man in world football [Jose Mourinho], was probably the greatest 48 hours of my entire life. I don't think it'll ever be bettered.”

He has eyed the rematch on 7 April, however. “If we're 13 points clear when we play United here, we could win it [the title] that day,” he added. “That would be the best thing.”

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