Pep Guardiola has told Kevin Parker, the general secretary of Manchester City’s supporters’ club, to “review” his comments after Wednesday’s win over RB Leipzig, with the manager refusing to apologise for his remarks.
After City’s 6-3 victory in the opening Champions League group match, Guardiola said his players were tired and he would like “more people” to come for Saturday’s visit of Southampton than the 38,062 who attended the Leipzig game at the Etihad Stadium, which holds just under 54,000.
This caused Parker to tell City’s manager to concentrate on coaching. “In the nicest possible way, I think maybe he should stick to that,” he said.
A visibly disgruntled Guardiola responded on Friday. “Did I say after the game against Leipzig that I was disappointed because the stadium was not full?” he said. “Interpretation is interpretation. I’m not going to apologise for what I said. I’m surprised about what happened with this man.
“It’s not the first time in my career I’ve said it; the same [when in charge] at Barcelona and Bayern Munich. You play a tough Champions League game, knowing that you have another in three days and that Southampton have had all week to prepare.
“I made an approach [to the support] to do something together again on Saturday at 3pm. What I said is that we would love, and need, their support. Whether it’s 10,000 people, 50,000 or 40,000 – it doesn’t matter how many come – I invite them to come and enjoy a game.
“After five seasons [here], if the people can’t understand my behaviour it is because they want to misunderstand exactly what I said. I’m not going to apologise for a second because I was honest.
“I’d prefer to be with my people than without my people. But if they don’t come for any reason then it’s perfect. If you do, it will be a pleasure. So Mr Parker should review the comments made a day after. I will not apologise to him, absolutely not.
“We are who we are. I know the history, I learned about the history. This club [when it was] in the lower division, what it means to follow the team. I don’t want to be like [Manchester] United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, [Real] Madrid – like all the big clubs. Don’t put words in my mouth, I don’t like it. If I have a problem with the fans I’ll make a step aside. It’s not a problem for me. I am one of them.
“It was tough against Leipzig. We were exhausted – I saw it in the dressing room. In that moment I was thinking of Southampton in three days.”
Guardiola had said on Wednesday: “I would like more people to come next game on Saturday. We need the people next Saturday, please. Because we will be tired; I know the team from Ralph [Hasenhüttl] is quite similar [to Leipzig] the way they play. They are so, so dangerous with good quality and it’s a really important game for us, so I invite all our people to come next Saturday 3pm to watch the game.”