Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola is amazed by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s pre-derby warning to his Manchester United players that they should be ready to be kicked at Old Trafford on Wednesday.
On Tuesday morning Solskjaer said: “There will be fouls. They will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you.”
“Did he say that? With 65% or 70% possession, how do we do that?” said Guardiola.
“I don’t like it. My side is not built like that, not at all.”
Guardiola has previously denied accusations he tells his teams to commit ‘tactical fouls’ to halt opposition counter-attacks.
Privately, City are bemused at United letting Solskjaer speak about the issue, mainly because the statistics do not back up the Norwegian’s view.
According to Opta, City have conceded 170 free-kicks, excluding off-sides, in the opposition half so far this season. In contrast, United have conceded 195.
In addition, City have amassed 38 yellow cards and one red in the Premier League this season – for United, the figures are 64 and four.
“In 10 seasons as a manager, I never prepared for a game thinking about these thing. Never,” insisted Guardiola.
“In football, you sometimes do that [foul] because the actions are so fast. But I never said we should do it to punish an opponent or cancel them. Maybe after the game you can ask him in the press conference.”
‘Solskjaer’s comments won’t influence referee’
In November, Guardiola was given a formal warning by the Football Association for speaking about referee Anthony Taylor before the previous Manchester derby at Etihad Stadium, which City won 3-1.
In October, Newcastle manager Rafael Benitez was fined £60,000 for comments he made about Andre Marriner before a goalless draw with Crystal Palace.
Marriner will be in charge at Old Trafford and, as FA rules specifically forbid managers speaking about referees prior to matches, Solskjaer risked a sanction when he said: “They [City] commit so many players forward and you can clearly see that they’ve got them in that mould of trying to win the ball back, and they do make fouls.
“It’s up to us to play through that press, be ready, play one and two-touch, don’t give them time. If you spend two or three touches… it’s not my decision, it’s the referee’s responsibility to do that.”
Asked if those comments could influence Marriner, Guardiola said: “That’s the reason why, of course.
“But I don’t think it will be successful because we don’t do it.”