Pep Guardiola fumes at Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ahead of Manchester derby

Andy Hampson 24/04/2019
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Ole Gunnar Solskaer and Pep Guardiola

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has hit back at suggestions from his Manchester United counterpart Ole Gunnar Solskjaer that he might condone ‘tactical fouling’.

The United manager said he expected City to “snap at their heels” and foul his side in Wednesday’s crunch Premier League derby at Old Trafford.

Solskjaer is not the first United boss to have claimed City might strategically foul opponents high up the pitch to prevent counter-attacks, with his predecessor Jose Mourinho having mentioned it last season.

“When we win it we have got to be ready for their aggression because they will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you,” Solskjaer said at his pre-match press conference.

“They will not allow us easy counter-attacking. There will be fouls, no doubt about it.”

Guardiola reacted with surprise when this was mentioned at his own media briefing.

“Did he say that?” the Catalan asked. “I never prepare a game in 10 seasons as a manager thinking about these kind of things, never.

“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 to the last day. When a player wants to attack, we have to be honest.

“Of course there is contact, there are fouls, but when it happens (it is because) you arrive late and that is why there are referees, to make yellow cards or red cards or whatever they decide.

“I prepare to do our own game, that is what I want, knowing of course the opponent, but I never said I’m going to do that to punish them or cancel them (by) making fouls. Never.”

Fernandinho fouls Mohamed Salah earlier this season

Fernandinho fouls Mohamed Salah earlier this season

Guardiola was asked if he thought comments such as Solskjaer’s could influence the referee.

“That’s the reason why, of course,” he said.

Guardiola also claimed that with an “average of 65 or 70 per cent” possession City do not commit many fouls. According to Premier League statistics, United have committed 190 fouls in the opponents’ half this season compared to 170 for City. United have accumulated 64 yellow cards and four red, against 38 and one for City respectively.

On the subject of yellow cards, Solskjaer felt City’s fouls do not attract as much attention because they are often high up the pitch.

The Norwegian said: “You don’t get the yellow cards, 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 enough, play one and two-touch, don’t give them time… It’s not my decision, it’s the referee’s responsibility to do that.”

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See what Man City boss Pep Guardiola expects from Man United in Wednesday's derby

David Cooper 24/04/2019
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Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola is expecting to face “the best United” in the Manchester derby on Wednesday after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side lost 4-0 to Everton on Sunday.

With just four games left in the Premier League season, Guardiola believes City need to “win all four games to retain the title.”

City are two points behind leaders Liverpool in the table but have one game in hand over the Merseyside club.

Manchester rivals United are on the hunt for a top-four finish, having slipped to sixth after their recent defeat.










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Mauricio Pochettino 'hoping' Christian Eriksen stays as Real Madrid interest intensifies

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Tottenham goalscorer Christian Eriksen

Mauricio Pochettino says Christian Eriksen is open to talks over a new contract after his heroics against Brighton boosted Tottenham’s Premier League top-four hopes.

Eriksen produced a moment of quality in the 88th minute to hand Spurs a 1-0 win at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, which strengthens their grip on the Champions League places.

The Dane is out of contract at the end of next season and is currently stalling on a new deal, with Real Madrid reported to be interested in signing him.

Pochettino has revealed that Eriksen is open to discussing a new deal, but it will not be until the end of the season.

“I think I was clear a few months ago,” Pochettino said. “It is a situation that is a very special situation, Christian is a special person, I think we are all special, different and we need to understand that.

“The timing for him or for the club to be agreeing something are maybe different to another player.

“I hope and I wish Christian can be with us in the future but I think Christian and us we are so open to talk and we will see what happens.

“I think it is so close to the end of the season, a lot of time to talk after and I think the most important thing now, not only for him, is for all the players to be focused and try to achieve the things we want.

“We have a lot of big things ahead and we need to be focused only to try and recover, train and compete.”

Eriksen’s decision whether to stay at the club or not may be influenced by how Spurs end their season, with a Champions League crown still in the offing, and they took a big step towards another season in Europe’s premier club competition with a narrow victory over Brighton.

The Seagulls, fighting for their lives at the other end of the table, defended with 11 men behind the ball and it looked like Spurs were headed towards a first goalless draw in 68 games until Eriksen came to the rescue.

It was vital that Spurs capitalised on Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United all dropping points over the Easter weekend and Pochettino knows his side are in pole position.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino

“We are in a position now that is in our hands to be in the top four,” he added. “If we are capable of winning the next three games in the Premier League then we will be third.

“I think that is the key, thinking about ourselves and then seeing what’s happening next to us of course.”

Brighton weathered the storm for 88 minutes and looked like holding on for a precious point and their late slip left boss Chris Hughton feeling heartbroken.

“That is very much the feeling at the moment,” he said.

“I genuinely felt that we had a little bit of fortune go our way, they hit the woodwork, and you get a feeling that it is going to come, but the longer it went on I thought we were going to hold out.

“If we managed the game a little bit better at the end we would have got the result we wanted.

“We’re in a pressurised position but it is only us that have put us there.

“We need to take whatever we can from these last two performances and they have been ‘better feel’ performances for us.”

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