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“I ‘LL NEVER MANAGE MAN UTD”, SAYS CITY’S PEP GUARDIOLA

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The dislike that Manchester City boss, Pep Guardiola, has for city rivals, Manchester United appears to be deep rooted.

The Guardian of UK has quoted the Spaniard as saying that he would rather live in the Maldives or play golf than manage Manchester United even if it were the only job on offer.

He takes Manchester City to Old Trafford for the first leg of the League Cup semi-final on Tuesday as he seeks to win the competition for a third consecutive season.

Asked whether he would ever take charge of City’s fierce rivals, Guardiola said: “After training City I will never train them; I would not train (Real) Madrid (after Barcelona).

“I’d be in the Maldives if I don’t have any offers. Maybe not the Maldives because it doesn’t have any golf courses.”

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City lost December’s league meeting with United 2-1 at home, yet Ole Gunnar Solskjær has called for appropriate protection for his team before Tuesday’s match, the manager highlighting how the reduced foul count of Guardiola’s side was a factor in the win.

“We got past their press last time and, if you count the numbers of fouls, I don’t think there were too many,” said Solskjær, before speaking in general terms. “That’s a big thing and sometimes I look at the referees and I look at our games and, even if they are just little fouls, there have been teams who have stopped us with these little fouls – which has stopped us showing how good we are when we attack.”

Fernandinho appeared to foul Daniel James near halfway to stop the play in the first half yet the Brazilian did not concede even a free kick.

Solskjær was reminded of this.

“There have been a few fouls on Dan James and I am better off not talking about it,” he said. “But the referees have got to look at players with his pace. Even if they just knock the ball past them and they are stopped in their tracks of course it is a yellow card.”

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Guardiola denied his team commit tactical fouls as a strategy.

“I never said in one meeting about tactical fouls; sometimes it happens because they are so fast,” he said. “When you lose the ball, sometimes you are late and make a foul.”

He was reminded that his former assistant Mikel Arteta was shown on a documentary instructing David Silva, Ilkay Gündogan and Kevin De Bruyne to foul in the “transition”.

The manager laughed this off.

“You have to go to London and ask him,” said Guardiola of Arteta, the Arsenal manager. “We (often) have 62 per cent of the ball. You cannot make fouls when you have the ball … Sometimes you make a foul and it’s a yellow card and if he thinks that we deserve it.”

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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