Guardi­ola weighs in on re­newed Mourinho ri­valry

The Myanmar Times - - Sport -

PEP Guardi­ola pushed aside any sug­ges­tion he would not shake hands with arch-ri­val Jose Mourinho and in­sisted all would be friendly when Manch­ester City play Manch­ester United to­day.

“We are po­lite guys, why not?” Guardi­ola said yes­ter­day when asked if the pair would ex­tend hands af­ter the match de­spite an ac­ri­mo­nious ri­valry which stretches back to 2010, when the Cata­lan had stew­ard­ship of Barcelona and Mourinho took the reins at Real Madrid.

“Why should we not shake hands? No rea­son why. He will want to win and so will I, that’s all,” the City boss told a news con­fer­ence af­ter train­ing at Bei­jing’s Olympic Sports Cen­tre ahead of the In­ter­na­tional Cham­pi­ons Cup pre-sea­son tour match.

Since tak­ing on their re­spec­tive Manch­ester foot­ball giants, each man­ager has in­sisted they will not con­cen­trate on each other too much.

But Guardi­ola ac­knowl­edged that United would mount a se­ri­ous chal­lenge in the English Premier League, af­ter a pe­riod in the dol­drums since the re­tire­ment of Alex Fer­gu­son in 2013.

“I’m pretty sure they will be stronger than in pre­vi­ous years,” said Guardi­ola.

“With this man­ager I’m sure they will buy new play­ers. They will be a strong team.”

Yes­ter­day’s train­ing ses­sion was switched hastily to the smaller Olympic Sports Cen­tre to pre­serve the fa­mous Bird’s Nest sta­dium’s pitch fol­low­ing days of storms in the Chi­nese cap­i­tal that have left the ground sat­u­rated. The first Manch­ester derby out­side the UK will be played at the cen­tre­piece arena of the 2008 Bei­jing Olympics tonight, weather per­mit­ting.

Guardi­ola ac­knowl­edged that con­di­tions would not be ideal and his first pri­or­ity at this stage of pre-sea­son was to avoid any in­juries.

“We didn’t see the pitch but there is a lot of wa­ter in the last days so we un­der­stand it’s not in a good con­di­tion,” said Guardi­ola.

“We know the hu­mid­ity for the train­ing is not ideal, but we also know that it’s so im­por­tant to come here to know the peo­ple and to play a good two games against amaz­ing teams like United and Dort­mund.”

Cap­tain Vin­cent Kom­pany is also in Bei­jing with the squad af­ter re­cov­er­ing from an in­jury-blighted cam­paign in 2015-16, but did not train with the rest of the play­ers as he is un­der­go­ing his own in­ten­sive pro­gram to re­gain full fit­ness.

Guardi­ola said there was a pos­si­bil­ity he could be ready for the first game of the new sea­son against Sun­der­land on Au­gust 13, but he would not rush the Bel­gian cen­tral de­fender back and risk fur­ther in­jury.

“The physio says he is ready but he needs to show that he can play one week, then one week more, to play reg­u­larly,” said Guardi­ola.

“The most im­por­tant thing is for Vin­cent to get fit – if it’s for Sun­der­land, per­fect. If not, Septem­ber.”

United lost 4-1 to Borus­sia Dort­mund in Shang­hai on July 22 and City will play the Ger­man side in the south­ern Chi­nese city of Shen­zhen on July 28 to con­clude their China tour.

Photo: AFP

Manch­ester City’s new head coach Pep Guardi­ola at­tends a train­ing ses­sion at FC Bay­ern Mu­nich’s fa­cil­i­ties in Mu­nich, Ger­many, on July 21.

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