Guardi­ola dodges Mour­inho

Afro Voice (National Edition) - - ENTERTAINMENT -

PEP Guardi­ola re­fused to be drawn into a war of words with Jose Mour­inho af­ter Manch­ester City main­tained their im­pres­sive progress to­wards the Premier League ti­tle.

City stretched their ad­van­tage at the top to 15 points over Manch­ester United as Ra­heem Ster­ling sealed a 1-0 win at New­cas­tle to record an 18th con­sec­u­tive league vic­tory, one short of Bay­ern Mu­nich’s best for Europe’s top five leagues of 19 straight wins.

United man­ager Mour­inho at­tempted to pro­voke Guardi­ola on Tues­day af­ter point­ing to their ri­vals’ huge spend­ing power by claim­ing “City buy full-backs for the price of strik­ers” and in­sist­ing that the £300m (R4.9bn) he has spent since tak­ing charge at Old Traf­ford 18 months ago was “not enough”.

Mour­inho paid £93m to sign France mid­fielder Paul Pogba, while re­cruit­ing £30m de­fender Eric Bailly and mid­fielder Hen­rikh Mkhi­taryan for £26.3m.

This year, United spent £75m on striker Romelu Lukaku, as well as £31m on de­fender Vic­tor Lin­de­lof and £40m for mid­fielder Ne­manja Matic.

In com­par­i­son, City bought three de­fend­ers, Kyle Walker from Tot­ten­ham for an ini­tial £45m, Ben­jamin Mendy from Monaco for £52m and Danilo from Real Madrid for £26.5m as part of a sum­mer out­lay that topped £200m.

When asked about the com­ments, Guardi­ola said: “I’m so de­lighted to be here to speak about what hap­pened on the pitch. About what hap­pened with my col­league speak­ing off the pitch in the press con­fer­ence, I’m not the right guy. You want to talk about what hap­pened to­day on the pitch, I will an­swer.”

City re­main on course to win the ti­tle in record time af­ter equalling Chelsea’s English top flight record of 11 con­sec­u­tive away wins.

City face a min­i­mum of eight games in 34 days in a hec­tic start to the new year and Guardi­ola said: “Of course we are happy to break records but when we pre­pare for games we don’t speak about them. “We’ve played all these games in De­cem­ber then in Jan­uary you have the Carabao Cup and FA Cup and then the re­turn of the Cham­pi­ons League in Fe­bru­ary. It will be tough but it will also be tough for our op­po­nents.”

Guardi­ola’s op­po­site num­ber Rafa Ben­itez hit back at crit­i­cism of his neg­a­tive ap­proach af­ter his team slid to a fifth con­sec­u­tive home de­feat, New­cas­tle’s worst run at St James’ Park for 64 years to leave them just a point above the bot­tom three af­ter one win in their last 11 matches.

Sub­sti­tute Dwight Gayle al­most snatched a dra­matic late equaliser to in part jus­tify the man­ager’s ul­tra­cau­tious ap­proach and the Spa­niard said: “We were in the game un­til the end and very close to get­ting a point against a very good team.”

New­cas­tle face the key visit of rel­e­ga­tion ri­vals Brighton be­fore the turn of the year, and Ben­itez added: “We have a cou­ple of games in the space of a few days against teams near the bot­tom of the ta­ble and hope­fully we’ll have some of our in­jured play­ers back be­fore then.” – AFP

PIC­TURE: GALLO IM­AGES

BRING

IT ON: AB de Vil­liers is con­fi­dent that the Proteas can emerge vic­to­ri­ous against In­dia in the three-match Test se­ries start­ing on Jan­uary 5 at New­lands.

PIC­TURE: AFP

ABOVE IT ALL: Manch­ester City’s Span­ish man­ager Pep Guardi­ola.

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