مقال

I encourage City to celebrate - Guardiola defends players after Old Trafford controversy

12 كانون الأول 2017 15:15

Pep Guardiola insists Manchester City's celebrations at Old Trafford were "correct" and refused to be drawn on Sunday's post-match fracas.

City set a new Premier League record of 14 consecutive wins in the same season and moved 11 points clear of Manchester United at the summit as goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi secured a 2-1 derby victory.

But an alleged incident involving players and officials from both sides has subsequently dominated the headlines, with the Football Association giving each club until Wednesday to provide their observations.

Mourinho was widely reported to have sparked the flashpoint by heading to the away dressing room to confront City's players over celebrations he felt were over the top. In the subsequent confrontation, City assistant coach Mikel Arteta is understood to have suffered a cut face.

Following a terse build-up to the match, where Mourinho accused City's players of diving and repeated tactical fouling, a return to the hostilities that defined the relationship between Guardiola and his counterpart during their respective tenures in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid seems increasingly likely.

But Guardiola opted against returning fire at a news conference to preview the midweek trip to Swansea City, maintaining the matter should be left to the FA and that his jubilant players were absolutely not in the wrong.

"After the game, the players shook hands between them, no problems at all and some players went to celebrate with the fans like normal," he said.

"Afterwards we went to the locker room. I encourage the players to celebrate victories but with respect for our opponents, not just Manchester United.

"We did it many times at home this season. We celebrated in Napoli when we qualified for the next round of the Champions League. I am the guy who encourages them to celebrate with each other.

"Afterwards what happened, happened. We are going to make the statement to the FA and they are going to decide."

Asked whether he could confirm Arteta's injury, Guardiola again reverted to an impassioned defence of his players.

"No, no. I am not going to comment about that," he said.

"No [the celebrations were not over the top], definitely not. Believe me. It was the same as the Southampton game, winning after 96 minutes. We were happy.

"We won a derby against United, in this moment our best rival to win it [the Premier League]. Do the people expect us not to celebrate.

"When United win derby games, they celebrate it. When Arsenal win against United they celebrate it. When Arsenal won the FA Cup last year, they celebrated it. But inside the locker room. That's what we tried to do and we did it.

"It was correct, believe me. We hugged, we jumped because we were happy.

"Everywhere, here in Spain, in Germany – teams are happy when they win a derby. I was in Munich when we beat Borussia Dortmund and we are happy.

"We were inside celebrating. We did not do anything exceptional. Always we have respect for our opponents.

"I'm not going to make the comments particularly about what happened there. What happened, happened and the FA investigation will know our opinions about that."

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