Guardiola re­grets ‘Harry Kane team’ com­ments

Manch­ester City man­ager be­lieves Spurs have proved him wrong this sea­son La­porte dis­misses con­cerns over Wem­b­ley pitch fol­low­ing NFL match yesterday

The Irish Times - Monday - Sport - - Front Page -

Pep Guardiola ad­mits he was wrong to re­fer to Tot­ten­ham as “the Harry Kane team”.

Tot­ten­ham man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino claimed Guardiola, his Manch­ester City coun­ter­part, was dis­re­spect­ful to the Lon­don club when he used the term last year as it im­plied the Eng­land tal­is­man was their only sig­nif­i­cant player.

Guardiola in­sisted he did not mean that and the ref­er­ence was in­tended as a com­pli­ment to Kane but he ac­cepts it came out badly.

In any case, he feels Spurs have proved him wrong com­pletely by mak­ing a fine start to the sea­son while Kane’s form, de­spite yield­ing five Pre­mier League goals, has been spo­radic.

Spurs head into tonight’s clash be­tween the two sides at Wem­b­ley trail­ing im­pres­sive cham­pi­ons City by just two points.

“They show me how wrong I was,” Guardiola said.

Given the tight­ness at the top of the ta­ble, Guardiola, whose side can­celled out Liver­pool in a goal­less draw ear­lier this month, sees it as an­other game City can ill af­ford to lose.

He said: “When you play against the con­tenders it’s al­most six points, isn’t it?

“These are im­por­tant. I don’t know what’s hap­pened in the past but it’s true that the strong teams are mak­ing a lot of points, they are not drop­ping points eas­ily.

‘Fo­cused on ev­ery­one’

“That’s why maybe the games against the con­tenders are be­com­ing so im­por­tant. We’ve started with three games away against them. That’s why it is so im­por­tant to take those points.”

This is a mes­sage Guardiola cer­tainly got across to his play­ers last sea­son.

City were beaten by Liver­pool and Manch­ester United dur­ing their record-break­ing cam­paign but, in the lat­ter case, the ti­tle was all but se­cured by then.

Guardiola said: “The first year we dropped a lot of points against con­tenders. Ex­cept An­field and United at home, we won ev­ery­thing in the sec­ond sea­son.

“The re­al­ity is what we’ve done last year you have to be fo­cused on ev­ery­one. That we had 100 points is be­cause we were fo­cused on all the games.”

Guardiola feels his team have largely main­tained last sea­son’s stan­dards but he re­mains con­cerned about the num­ber of chances they are not con­vert­ing.

He said: “I think it is quite sim­i­lar, the rhythm, to last sea­son, more or less. We con­trol part of the game, we cre­ate more chances, con­cede few.

“When that hap­pens, it is a solid team but to win games, espe­cially im­por­tant games like in the Cham­pi­ons League or Tot­ten­ham or Mon­day, you have to be so solid at the back and our con­ver­sion rate in front must be a lit­tle bit higher.

“Against top teams we don’t have too many chances.”

De­fender Aymeric La­porte has dis­missed con­cerns about the Wem­b­ley pitch ahead of tonight’s clash. The Pre­mier League en­counter takes place the day af­ter an NFL match be­tween the Jack­sonville Jaguars and the Philadel­phia Ea­gles was played on the same sur­face.

There have been fears that yesterday’s game could leave the ground in a poor state – one hardly con­ducive to the free-flow­ing at­tack­ing foot­ball favoured by City and Tot­ten­ham – but La­porte is not con­cerned.

The City de­fender said: “I don’t think it will af­fect us. We will con­cen­trate on our­selves and that is the most im­por­tant thing. The pitch is the same for both teams.

“It will be a dif­fi­cult match for us. All the matches in the Pre­mier League and the Cham­pi­ons League are dif­fi­cult.”

“I don’t have so­cial me­dia, Twit­ter, In­sta­gram, Face­book, noth­ing. That’s why my head, my face, looks younger than I re­ally am.” – Forty-six-year-old Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino ex­plain­ing how he still looks twenty-two. Wise man. “Cris­tiano Ron­aldo spoke about the ketchup bot­tle and when you shake it - the goals are com­ing and com­ing and com­ing. I be­lieve with Lukaku that this will hap­pen.” – Jose Mour­inho (inset) reck­on­ing that once Romelu Lukaku is squeezed, the goals will flow. “We could have bought him at Palace for £6m, but my chief scout told me he was too slow. I think he’s still in a job as well.” – Cardiff City man­ager Neil Warnock on miss­ing out on Vir­gil van Dijk when he was in charge at Crys­tal Palace. “All jour­nal­ists try to hurt us, maybe it’s envy be­cause you don’t know how to play foot­ball.” – Marcelo on the me­dia be­ing mean to Real Madrid. He has a point about that envy, you know. “They shouldn’t cry. But I’m not in a po­si­tion to talk about the crises of other clubs.” – Cris­tiano Ron­aldo, win­ning the Miaow of the Week award, re­spond­ing to Real Madrid’s Isco sug­gest­ing that there were no tears over his de­par­ture to Ju­ven­tus be­cause he wanted to leave. “If I said a player goes to the toi­let 20 times be­fore a game, I never named Lionel Messi.” – Diego Maradona, hav­ing said Messi goes to the loo 20 times be­fore games, de­nies say­ing Messi goes to the loo 20 times be­fore games.

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