Pep Guardiola has again insisted he does not condone tactical fouling.
Accusations that Guardiola’s Manchester City side are prepared to foul to prevent an attack have recurred throughout the Spaniard’s tenure at the Etihad Stadium.
Last season Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer raised the subject ahead of a derby and his remarks were met with a firm rebuttal from Guardiola.
Solskjaer was asked about the matter again on the eve of Tuesday’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg against City at Old Trafford.
This time the Norwegian spoke in more general terms about how a “few teams have stopped us with those little fouls” and conceded in the last derby that “there weren’t too many”. Speaking in his pre-match press conference, he also made a point of saying he did not bring it up this time.
Guardiola remains firm in his position.
The City manager said: “I have said many times, when I was at Barcelona and here, I have never in my life had a meeting where I have talked to my players about tactical fouls.
“It happens sometimes because you are late and because they are so fast, and they are so quick, that you make a foul.
“It’s simple – you lose the ball and they make incredible fast transitions and sometimes you are late and in that second you make a foul.
“If people judge our legacy is tactical fouling it is their problem not ours.”
It was pointed out to Guardiola that there is a scene in the fly-on-the-wall Amazon documentary ‘All or Nothing’, shot during the 2017-18 season, when then assistant boss Mikel Arteta appeared to encourage players to foul in certain situations.
Guardiola was cryptic on the matter.
“So you have to go to London and to ask Mikel,” said Guardiola of Arteta, who recently left City to become Arsenal manager.
Asked if he was not aware of what Arteta said, Guardiola said: “I didn’t say that!”
Guardiola was linked with United repeatedly before opting for City in 2016 but he says there is now no possibility he could ever manage at Old Trafford, even if he was out of work with no other offers.
The former Barcelona coach said: “After training City I won’t train United. It is like I would never train Madrid. Definitely not.
“I’d be in the Maldives if I didn’t have any offers! Well, maybe not the Maldives because it doesn’t have any golf courses…”
City are bidding to win the Carabao Cup for a third successive season and a fifth time in seven years. They have not lost in the competition since a fourth-round defeat by United in 2016.
Guardiola is hopeful his players can negotiate their congested schedule to triumph again.
He said: “Last season, except the semi-finals and final of the Champions League, we arrived at the last stages of every competition and the people arrived perfectly.
“If you don’t have many injuries you can handle it and if the players still desire to play.
“Of course sometimes you need a long week to rest but it’s what it is, I don’t think about it. We did it last season so why should we not do it this season? I think we can handle it.”
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