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Pep Guardiola warns Man City fans he will “step aside” as war of words continues


The Manchester City boss commented on the club’ support at the Champions League win over RB Leipzig and has come under fire from supporters for his remarks

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Pep Guardiola reflects after Manchester City’s 6-3 win against Leipzig

Pep Guardiola insists he will not apologise for urging more supporters to attend Manchester City’sPremier League clash with Southampton on Saturday.

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And as he doubled down over his remarks, arguing that they have been misinterpreted, the Spaniard remarkably declared: “If I’m a problem for my fans I will make a step aside.”

The City boss said in midweek that he would like a bigger crowd at this weekend’s encounter with Southampton than the 38,062 who attended Wednesday’s Champions League win over RB Leipzig at the Etihad Stadium.

Those comments have irritated some fans who feel the manager has questioned their loyalty.

The general secretary of City’s official supporters’ club, Kevin Parker, responded to the Catalan and called on Guardiola to be more considerate of circumstances, insisting the Spaniard “doesn’t understand the difficulties” supporters face.

“[What he said] did surprise me,” Parker said. “I’m not sure what that’s got to do with him. He doesn’t understand the difficulties that some people might have getting to a game at the Etihad on a Wednesday evening at 8pm.

“They’ve got kids to think of, they might not be able to afford it, [and] there are still some Covid issues about. I don’t see why he comments on it.”

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Speaking at his press conference on Friday, Guardiola responded and insists he feels that those irritated by his comments have misinterpreted what he initially stated.

He said: “Did I say after the game that I was disappointed that the stadium was not full?

“An interpretation is an interpretation. I am not going to apologise for what I said because I didn’t say it wrong.

“I’m surprised about what happened wit this man [Parker]. It’s not the first time I said in my career – I said it at Barcelona and Bayern and here. When we played a tough game like Leipzig and play three games later with a lack of preparation (against Southampton) I know how difficult it is, to ask for us all to do it again on Saturday again.

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“I made an approach to do something together again the next Saturday at 3pm. What I said was we need the support, with 10,000, 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 – it doesn’t matter how many people come – but I invite them to come and enjoy the game because we need the support.

“If after five seasons people cannot understand my behaviour it’s because they want to misunderstand exactly what I said. I’m not going to apologise for one second, because I was honest.

In the last year and a half we have been withou them and I am entirely grateful for the support that we had against Leipzig, away, at home.

“I always say if guys want to come we will be incredibly grateful because I know how difficult the game will be and I know we need our people. I never sit here and ask why people don’t come? If you don’t come then don’t. I will not apologise to him [Parker].”

Pep Guardiola, speaking on Friday

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Guardiola says he would never question the loyalty of City fans. “I am entirely grateful for the support that we had against Leipzig.

“I always say if guys want to come we will be incredibly grateful because I know how difficult the game will be and I know we need our people.

“I never sit here and ask why people don’t come. If you can’t come then don’t.

“This is a big mistake. We are who we are, we are proud of who we are. I know the history, I’ve learned the history of this club from the lower divisions what it means to travel and follow the club. I respect that.

“I don’t want to be like United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, like Madrid or like all the big clubs. We are who we are. I like it.

“Don’t put some words in my mouth that I didn’t say. And If I’m a big, big problem… I will never be a problem for my fans, never ever.

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“If I’m a problem for my fans I will make a step aside, it’s not a problem for me. But I am one of them. Since day one I tried to do my best, that’s for sure.”

Guardiola’s City face Southampton on Saturday
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Image:

Andy Rowland / PRiME Media Images)

Guardiola also went on to express his condolences to defender Nathan Ake, whose father died on Wednesday.

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Ake scored City’s opener in the 6-3 victory over Leipzig and revealed on Thursday that his goal was one of the last things his father saw.

Guardiola said: “Nathan has shown his personality. We are concerned, we are sad. Our condolences to his mother and brother, family and friends, and his fiancee. All we can say is we are here for him.”

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