Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has stoked the fire ahead of Saturday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United by saying striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic should not have gone public with their personal problems, 90min reports.
Ibrahimovic will lead United’s line at Old Trafford against City, with the Swede, Guardiola and United boss Jose Mourinho each getting their first taste of a derby in the north west. Zlatan and Guardiola each worked together at Barcelona, but only for a mere season before Pep sold him on.
The United hitman has in the years since released a book containing damning criticism of City’s boss, labelling him as a “spineless coward” who treated him like “a disturbance and an alien”, and Pep was asked about his relationship with the player ahead of the game.
According to the Guardian, he said:
“Ibrahimovic used his book to explain what he believes, he had some things to say. Always I was clear. Whatever I said to him I spoke face to face. I never used the media to explain what I wanted from him on the pitch.”
“I have a lot of respect for Zlatan and what he has done in the football world and his career. He has had a big impact everywhere he has been and he is an amazing talent, one of the best around. The best players always have an impact. The big players always bring their talent to a club immediately.”
“You can see they don’t need time to adapt to a new league or understand another country.”
Guardiola then turned his attention to Jose Mourinho, who is another highly-publicised rival in the opposite dugout, but was keen to suggest their relationship was better than most people think.
“If he invites me to do that I will accept. I have said many times I have a lot of respect for him. I always try to learn from all my colleagues and opponents and I learn from him as well.”
“José was my coach when he was assistant to Bobby Robson (at Barcelona). The last meeting in Madrid with Barcelona was not easy but we met each other two or three weeks ago at a Premier League managers get-together and we spoke with each other, and with Ronald Koeman and Tony Pulis. So it was OK.”
“The rivalry between us is more in the media.”