Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hit out at his Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after comments mande about his team as he feels the Norwegian is trying to influence referee ahead of crunch Manchester derby, saying, “I don’t like it… my team is not built for that”.
Pep Guardiola has accused Ole Gunnar Solskjaer of trying to influence referee Andre Marriner ahead of Wednesday’s Manchester derby. Solskjaer said Manchester City ‘snap at your ankles and heels and kick you’ and make tactical fouls to stop teams on the break. Asked if he was worried Solskjaer’s words could influence the referee, Guardiola said: “That’s the reason why, of course. I don’t think (it will succeed) because we don’t do that.”
The United manager’s comments added extra spice to Wednesday’s clash Old Trafford, in which a City victory would take them a step closer to becoming the first team in a decade to retain the Premier League. Solskjaer said: “When we win the ball we have got to be ready for their aggression because they will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you. They will not allow us easy counter-attacking. There will be fouls, no doubt about it. They will be stopping us as high as they can, I think.”
The City boss hit back, defending his team’s methods and saying he “didn’t like” Solskjaer’s observations. Guardiola flatly rejected any notion that he tells his squad to scythe down opponents on the counter and questioned Solskjaer’s motives for raising the point. “Did he say that? So we are going to make fouls on them? I don’t like it (Solskjaer’s comments).
I don’t like it. No. My team is not built for that, not at all.” Guardiola asked.
Solskjaer elaborated on City’s apparent ploy of fouling the opposition high up the pitch as part of their pressing game. “You don’t get the yellow cards (for that), do you? But that’s just because they commit so many players forward and you can clearly see that they’ve got them in that mould of trying to win the ball back, and they do make fouls. It’s up to us to play through that press, be ready, play one and two-touch, don’t give them time” the Norwegian said.
Guardiola hit back, claiming he has “never prepared a game thinking about these things”. “The players can talk about it better than me, the players I had at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and here. I know exactly what I said to my players from day one. When a player wants to attack, we have to be honest and of course there is contact, there are fouls. But when it happens and you arrive late that is why there are referees, to make yellow cards or red cards or whatever they decide,” the Catalan said.
The row between the managers came on the same day Guardiola — who is without key midfielder Kevin De Bruyne on Wednesday night with a hamstring injury — claimed City’s emergence as a dominant force in England means going to Old Trafford no longer prompts fear.
“The reason why is the fact that this club over the last decade has grown a lot and it is not scary to go there. Before it was maybe more difficult. Three seasons since I am here we did better than them, but here it is winning the title, not beating United,” he said.
Solskjaer knows the importance of the derby, adding: “For me it’s the best game we could have. There is no hiding place. The world’s watching. The whole of Manchester is watching. Liverpool is watching!’ But he admitted that it is unlikely United will challenge for next season’s title and that a number of stars will be axed in a reshuffle. We have been the best, and it’s not nice seeing those two at the top,” Solskjaer said.
“I don’t think we’ve got the consistency to do that (win next season). You cannot expect things to happen overnight. We have to be realistic enough as a club that we have to take it step by step. It has to be the right quality, right personality, the right standards to get us back to where we want to be.’
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