Sergio Aguero: Man City can win it all again

News Content ambassador and Man City legend Sergio Aguero sat down with football journalist, presenter and author Guillem Balague to discuss what Kun is up to since retiring from football. As well as recreating *that* Martin Tyler commentary, the legendary striker discussed Pep Guardiola’s legacy and how Lionel Messi is getting on in Miami.

How many times have you heard Martin Tyler’s famous commentary over *that* goal?

To tell the truth, I’ve heard it a lot of times. And even up to the present day, like today, it’s on social networks too.

Every so often, whenever the story is told again, the goal is shown again and that commentary.

It’s really, as you say, it’s become iconic, or, let’s say, a story that no player, let’s say, surely won't be forgotten by anybody for as long as we’re all alive here, right?

There are a lot of historic goals that come with a story, as you say. I’m thinking of two specifically. Diego Armando Maradona, for example, against England. But in your case, would you say that it is the goal in your career that is the most talked-about, brought up most often?

Obviously I’ve scored a lot of goals that have been beautiful, but that goal, for what it meant, that City hadn’t won a league title in more than 40 years and specifically the Premier League.

It was the start of a new City, with new players and the investment of a lot of money.

Well, at that time, we were talking about money in different amounts. But it’s become bigger and bigger.

It was something really beautiful because it will go down in history forever and … and it was the start of what I think was followed by the many titles that followed it, right?

Because you think that, if that title hadn’t been won, we might have gone on a bad run or something.

In the end it went our way, it was the 93rd minute and when I think about the goals and what that one means for the history of the club, it was the best thing that happened to me in professional football.

The fact the goal goes hand-in-hand with the commentary. Does that make you a little envious because you wanted all the attention or does it complement it and make it almost better?

No. To be honest, obviously the commentary makes it better, it has sort of meant it’s seen a lot more on social media and in regard to television, I think that as well as it being a goal in the 93rd minute, the commentary gives it something extra, right?

Because you can score a goal and the commentary can still be kind of a bit calmer, just sort of normal and it isn’t quite as memorable.

The goal is memorable, the title, but the context of the commentary just ramps it up a bit more, so you say, well, it’s gone down in history, plus there’s a really good commentary on the finish, right?

The one for the goal.

What about the commentator Martin Tyler? Have you met and given each other a hug?

Yes, he did an interview with me before I left City and he gave me a frame with the actual notes from that matchday.

So he gave me all the notes he had made, his stats, etc, etc.

So he gave me that in a frame as a present and, honestly, that was a really lovely gesture and will be a memento for me because that is something he really wanted to give me from the heart and … you can see that I’ll have it in my house forever.

On that day, it’s not just the commentary, it shows the work he had done.

One of the best explanations I have heard about football is that it is a show and what goes on around it forms part of that show, including, of course, legendary commentators like Martin Tyler. On the 10th anniversary of that goal, they got a statue of you at the Etihad and I don’t know if you have been to Manchester many times or if you want to go back, so what’s your relationship like with the city?

Yes, honestly, since the statue went up, I haven’t been back, I went back for an event and so I could see it but since then, I haven’t been back.

Obviously I’d love to go to Manchester, to be there again, say hello to the boys, see Pep, the whole team who in the last few years have worked hard to win more titles.

And I’ve got really good memories of all the people who I’ve spent some incredible years with.

The last season before I left, I really enjoyed it and with lovely gestures made by my teammates and staff and Pep himself, honestly it was a really beautiful year for me and, well, I’d like to get to see them again at some stage.

I’m still in touch with them, with Manel, I often say hello to him and to the whole team.

I don’t like to get in the way too much. But, yes, I’d love to go back to Manchester at some stage to see the boys again.

I’m watching clips of when you arrived and made your debut, in fact, I’m watching your first goal, from a Micah Richards pass and I’m seeing a really young guy, you’re not exactly a ‘little boy lost’ but there’s a bit of an innocence about you and your hairstyle is different, it’s obviously another version of Sergio Agüero. But inside your mind, were you thinking, “I’m here to get this Premier League won, I can break records” or something? How did you see it when you arrived?

To be honest the first thing I did was I thought of trying to play my football.

I don’t know if I went with the idea of winning the Premier League, or rather, to getting recognition, those things came as time went on.

But my idea and the intention behind me moving to City was, firstly, I loved the Premier League.

I am a huge fan of the Premier League and secondly that I wanted to have won titles by the time the day I retired came around.

I believed that City was one of those teams that, as I mentioned before the goal, was investing a lot of money in the desire to progress and to bring in really good players and to compete.

When I made my debut, I was anxious, nervous, but whatever.

Fortunately the first goal came in from a cross from Micah Richards and then a rocket of a shot from outside the area, the second goal and like I said, what a good start.

It was then just about keeping on doing things right, trying to make sure my teammates felt I could add something, right, to help the team, because I’ve always said, it is not easy to come in to a new team with players who are already there, with a lot of English players, and on top of that, I had never studied English as a boy when I was in Argentina and, well, I was trying to make good of things.

It was a good start and as time went on, the goals and the titles came and the cycle at City ended in the best way, right?

As you’ve given the official version of what you were thinking at that time, but likewise, did you think, also, “You know, that the central defenders don’t often play high up, in that way there’s a load of space and I’m going to get loads of goalscoring opportunities and smash it here”. Did that also cross your mind, because that’s what often happens with forwards who come from abroad.

I started realising as the games went on that the defenders were usually, sort of, very strict in the sense of, for example, the manager would say “This is your position, this is your position”, so you sort of felt like they were being remote controlled, where, it’s sort of “You’re going to do this, if it goes down the right-hand side, everyone running”.

So I could see that there wasn’t that cunning, right, the thing where as a kid I’d say “I can get something out of this” in that sense that, well, they’re all on the same page, they’re all following what the boss says as a unit, but I can be a bit more off-the-cuff in the sense that I can see when they make a mistake.

Obviously they’re working in a way that when a midfielder gets the ball, the centre-half is pressing and you can take advantage of those spaces that maybe in Spain, the defenders might be onto me, I could be a bit smarter in that sense.

So they tried to iron that out a bit, my cunning side and I had to just work a bit harder.

And in that sense, I could see openings in that so I got a bit sharper, quicker in the area, creating spaces at the near post, being able to feint and get to the far post, or when the ball came out, the centre-halves would get straight into the six-yard box and I’d say to myself, “Right, I’m pulling back, the ball’s going to come back to me”.

Or rather, it’s a case of realising game by game that I could create openings and that’s how it went.

As time went on, I got more and more cunning in that sense and I felt free and my confidence grew and, well, of course I also had good players around me like at that time we had Silva, Yaya Toure, Gareth Barry and then later on Kevin de Bruyne turned up, players with good feet and where all I needed was a bit of cunning and they knew I could gain that fraction of a yard and I’d be in on goal.

You said that your English didn’t put you in the best position to unsettle defenders with your words, but then, when you started to speak better English, did you use that too or not?

I didn’t use it a lot because in truth, for players in that sense, I think that with the players, speaking English was better for day-to-day communication, and off the pitch outside of game situations.

At the end of a game, being able to speak to a player in English isn't that difficult but you play more or less with looks, right, with movement, you know what you’re looking to do, right?

For example, with Kevin de Bruyne, he told me straight away that he would find me as best he could and I knew that I had to make certain moves and he would try and find me.

He always said to me that he would try, “I try, no, the, behind the defence”, behind the defence always.

And, I knew that I had to be alive to that and, well, there were some occasions where you’d talk, like in dead ball situations and things like that, but I got an understanding quite easily.

I didn’t speak a lot day to day but in football, in English I understood enough, it’s football, right?

To defenders, would you say to them “You are not a very good defender?” to put them off?

No, in that sense, I didn’t, I never did that, I’d just concentrate on my own game. I don’t try to speak to defenders like that because I think that that’s the way I do it.

I always just played and sometimes there are defenders that would say something to me and they think, they think you’re, like, “You want to, well, it’s like we say in Argentina, boludear [try it on]? You want to wind me up?”

I think that this doesn’t work in your favour as a forward, because I think ultimately, in the end I think the defender has everything to gain from it.

You can get injured because a defender who doesn’t like that sort of thing, a comment you’ve made or something, if the defender wants to, he can easily go in on you, he can tackle you and in England most of all, they’re strong in the tackle, so it’s a bit about being smart, right?

When taking on defenders, I’d just use sheer grit to take them on, I’d be up for the battle and they could see I was up for it and that this guy wasn’t a difficult, irritating little pain in the neck in the area.

Do you remember all of the records that you have accomplished?

Well, when I was playing, I remembered them all, but lately since I retired, I only remember some of it.

But yes, obviously, the best ones, scoring the most goals. As a foreign player, I’m still the 5th or 6th top scorer in the Premier League.

I’m still top scorer at City but, obviously there are a lot of records that, yes, I remember because they’ll stay with me forever.

I’m surprised because I thought that it’s when you retire that what you’ve done starts to sink in; in bars, restaurants, with your friends. But I can see that in your case, that isn’t how it is. In any case, do you remember that you’re the player who scored the most hat-tricks in the Premier League?

Ah, is that true too? Ah, yes, I remembered that but I just didn’t remember it right now. Exactly. I think it was 12, wasn’t it? Was it 12? Shearer, isn’t it? And then Thierry Henry.

Harry, Kane, Michael Owen, Wayne Rooney. But now there’s Erling Haaland, in a couple of years, he’ll have that record because he’s taking City to another level, isn’t he. You can see with Haaland, with Pep, with the amazing team they have. Do you see them as favourites for the Premier League this year too?

Yes, I think that today, ultimately City is going to be the favourite and for many years to come, that’s the reality.

They’ve got a lot of players on long-term contracts, who are really good players.

And the truth is that, yes, they’re always a favourite.

But in the end in football, sometimes things don’t go your way, but I think that in that sense, Pep is very intelligent.

He is a really good motivator, he makes sure the players don’t lose their focus and most of all with Haaland.

I think that Pep likes Haaland’s style, he has settled in really well to the whole style of play that Pep has devised especially for him.

You only have to finish and I think that, yes, Haaland is really bringing a lot to City. Let’s hope he stays on the same path, because it isn’t easy.

It’s really difficult to be at a high level year on year.

But I think that while Pep remains the manager, I think they are going to remain at a high level and it all depends on Haaland.

It also all depends on Pep and Haaland.

What does he want? What does he want him to do? For his, for his future or his figures, he wants to be the best.

If he wants to break the record as the top scorer at City. If he wants to score the most hat-tricks.

I think that this is a more personal aim for a player and the ambition that he can have, we can see it today, that he has that ambition and that drive.

And it’s good because he is now helping the team to win more titles, which in the end is what the club and all of its staff are aiming to do.

Most of all with Pep, right, to win title after title after title and obviously his goals are going to help a lot towards that.

What similarities or differences do you see in this Manchester City and your Manchester City?

I think that there isn’t that much difference. But yes, well, it has changed a lot with the players, of course, but it has been improving.

Since I arrived, we have had a different type of football, with Mancini. We played football that was set up a bit more defensively.

Then Pellegrini arrived, who was a bit more, not defensive but, let’s say, a neutral thing, defence and attack.

And then Pep. We already know that Pep’s thing is directly 99% an attack thing.

So he has changed the general style of play at City.

And then Pep started to bring in players: which player suits him, which player doesn’t, in terms of his style of play.

And we kept on improving in that sense of City having a good playing style, which Pep kept on doing in the same way, something I can say that, because now he has won the Champions League.

They’ve played better under Pep, he always played the same way, he tried again and if he didn’t win the Champions League, he pursued it the same way.

OK, we can say he changed, but the style of play under Pep was always the same from when he arrived at City, it’s just things didn’t happen

It didn’t give us the results and there was a bit of bad luck along the way, but his style was the same, and I think it’s that also.

With Pep having been at City so many years, it’s that any player that comes in is going to do it well.

He is going to do well because there is already a style of play, there’s the first season, maybe, then two or three more years, Pep worked really hard towards us understanding his style of play.

But I believe that now that style of play is working out in a way that any player that comes in, they have to have quality.

He is going to bring a lot and I think that I hope that God willing, City keep on this same path, because I was there for many years, it’s a club I love a lot, they treated me very well and I hope they carry on like this, enjoying it, winning titles and the players so happy, enjoying it and that then stays with you forever, right?

You’ve said a crucial thing, which is that the players have to adapt to Pep’s style. Specifically, how did you change under Pep’s charge, what did you add to your game and what did you have to do in order to convince him?

When Pep arrived, obviously I changed a lot.

Firstly, I had to get used to being the spearhead when we were pressing. Obviously, I tried to be part of the press sometimes, trying to gather energy for when we would get the ball.

But I started to get to know Pep in that style that he wanted, he was very demanding and I had to be in very good physical shape to be able to have that energy at the time we were pressing and at the time we’d attack.

Then, with time, honestly, he saw some shortcomings that he would point out to me and it would throw me off balance a bit.

Well, he tried to put me on the right track. Then there were a few years which were 2018, 2019, 2020.

He would say to me, “You’re going to stay on this side, and I don’t want you to play down the middle.

So I was trying to put on little short presses so that you can then have energy, score goals and attack”.

That tactic started to work. Then with the arrival of Gabriel, he has me for short presses and Gabriel for longer presses that maybe would demand more of you.

So we got used to it a bit and well, then you always want to play but in the end, Pep is after what is best for the team and, to tell the truth, I learned a lot from him.

The style he had of playing directly, the ball would end up arriving, I’d have it, I had to concentrate on trying to finish, to think clearly, whether there was a teammate or not, to make decisions that would win games, that is what Pep always wanted, right?

Always. He would say to me the key games that he wanted me to play in. And it was a lot of work to get myself in the frame of mind that it was this specific game I had to play my best in and show to Pep and the world who watch football that in those tough and key games, Kun Agüero was present, right?

You were very present, 260 goals don’t score themselves too easily. But you say that while City have Pep, they will be favourites for everything. And if I mentioned to you that he has two years left as manager of the club. Let’s assume so. But what the English call an educated guess, maybe in two years he will leave club football and pick a national team to manage. And because he can choose who, shall we make him the manager of the Argentina national team?

Wow! Obviously for any Argentinian that would be incredible.

Obviously, as an Argentinian, yes, it would be really good if he could be the Argentina national coach but well, I don’t know.

And obviously nowadays as I’m an ex-player and looking at it as a fan of the national team, I think that obviously everyone would be happy, right?

But I think that we’ll have to see, where he wants to go, which challenge he wants it to be, what managers want is to take over a country and bring success to it, right?

And because, in the end, between Argentina and Spain or to go to Brazil or Germany or Italy, those teams, or England, they’re historic teams.

You know there is very little margin for error with there being so few games, right?

And I think that with that Pep style of play, in a national team, I think he would miss the training sessions.

I mean, the thing of teaching players and coordinating things that he wants to do with a team, it doesn’t have that.

National teams have two weeks, one week and the players come in tired after they’ve travelled and I think in that sense, Pep could end up thinking, no, I’m not going to go into it, it puts me in a predicament or I’d prefer to go ahead and do it this way.

It’s not his decision, it’s everyone’s but obviously everyone will respect the decision he makes.

This won’t change his style of play at all if I know him, whether for better or worse, he will keep doing his way.

I’ve heard that you’re going to start playing football again? Big news!

I don’t know. It might be true.

No, for now, I’m not thinking of coming back to play in any big stadiums. Maybe some sort of event, some kind of invitation that may come in.

But I am training.

I’m very well, obviously having fun and I’m doing a lot of padel, in the gym, playing seven-a-side football with friends, and now there’s the King's League that we’ve put together in Spain, in Barcelona, and playing for a team I’m chairman of, I can play and it’s fun.

It’s doing me good to stay active in sport and in truth, I’m happy and content to be able to enjoy these things.

Have you spoken to Leo? Have you been to see him yet? He’s clearly enjoying being there.

Yes, right. He’s enjoying it. We’re always talking to each other.

I’m still in the group chat with the national team lads.

We always chat first thing about what they’re doing, what they’re eating. Or rather, to be honest, I’m obviously here in Argentina.

But I was a player, I was in the national team and it’s a bit, they travel and come in so tired and the reality is that I had it like that too, you know?

Wow! I want to be relaxed, not see anyone, I know that they know how I am, I don’t go overboard being in touch too much.

There’s the moments when they’re relaxed, eating dinner, chatting.

I speak to them more at those times, not when they’re in the middle of a competition.

It’s from knowing Leo and the national team boys, when you’re in the middle of a competition, you’re in the thick of it, so I don’t make it worse, I don’t chat to them too much when they’re in the middle of their routine, when they relax a bit and are drinking tea or going to the gym.

It’s a bit like that and I respect the players a lot in that sense.

I’m sure you’re up to date with the situation in Spain. The Spanish Football Federation. Luis Rubiales, the president who is currently suspended from his job. If you were still playing professionally, what would you do to support the women?

I’ve seen it on social networks, the truth is I didn’t understand it at all and to tell the truth I don’t go on there a lot.

I’m watching very little football, I just went to Miami due to Leo being there, but I saw a bit on social media, what happened.

But obviously in the end, you need to recognise it when you’ve made a mistake.

I think that yes, you have to back the women and we, in the sense that we don’t know how they feel.

So in the end it’s about respecting what they, what they are feeling and what they want, right?

I didn’t know he had resigned, the only thing I knew was that he said “I’m not going to resign,” which was all over the place.

Well, I didn’t know exactly what was happening but I think the thing is the issue is owning up to things that can end up causing problems.

And in that sense, when there’s a mistake, if you make a mistake, you apologise.

You have to understand how the women feel and, well, what they are feeling and if right now they’re feeling as they are and it’s bad.

Well, they would respect us men when we feel bad about some kind of problem and in this case.

I think we have to support the women if they feel like this, we have to support them and we’re here to do that, to support them in the sense of being men and women.