15 Dec City boss Pep Guardiola dismisses Jose Mourinho’s ‘tactical fouls’ claim
Pep Guardiola has dismissed Jose Mourinho’s claim that Manchester City are prepared to commit ‘tactical fouls’.
Manchester United boss Mourinho fanned the flames ahead of last week’s derby at Old Trafford by suggesting City regularly broke up play when out of possession by deliberately conceding free-kicks.
This came after he also appeared to accuse City players of diving and claimed he would probably be punished for making a political statement similar to Guardiola’s recent wearing of a yellow ribbon.
Guardiola said: “I don’t know how many fouls we make on the pitch but I think, when you have 70 per cent possession, we are not that team.
“I never, never, never, never sent a message to my players. You can ask the players – these players and the old players – if my message on the pitch was to make fouls. I don’t use this kind of message.
“We are not a saint. Of course we do fouls but it’s because of the way the game is.”
Mourinho has since been asked by the Football Association to explain unspecified comments he made ahead of the derby.
City won 2-1 at Old Trafford. The game was overshadowed by the melee that broke out between players and coaches near the dressing rooms after the final whistle but, on the field, it was a victory City thoroughly deserved.
Among the impressive performers for Guardiola was right-back Kyle Walker, who should return to the side after being rested at Swansea in midweek to face former club Tottenham on Saturday.
England international Walker joined City in a deal worth an initial £45million in the summer and his attacking play has added a new dimension to Guardiola’s side, who lead the Premier League by 11 points.
Guardiola rates the 27-year-old among the best in his position but believes there is still more improvement to come from him, particularly in terms of his footballing brain.
Guardiola said: “Right now I’d rate him as one of the best definitely – his energy, so strong defensively.
“But I’d like to help him to solve the problems not just through his physicality but also through his thinking.
“When you are so strong physically, you solve all the problems that way but when you get to a certain age – 28, 29, 30 – after that you need to think more about what is going to happen. (I will) always encourage him to think and after, do it.
“But of course against (Marcus) Rashford and (Anthony) Martial – they are so fast and he was able to control them. Few players in the world can control them like he did. That’s why he’s so, so important for us.”