Monday 26 August 2019

Pep denies City only in China 'for the money'

Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA Wire
Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA Wire

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola has hit back at claims that Manchester City have adopted a "disrespectful" and "arrogant" approach to their troubled pre-season tour of China.

Chinese state media launched a withering attack on City over their trip to Shanghai and Nanjing for the Asia Trophy and accused the Premier League champions of visiting only for the money.

The government-owned Xinhua Agency criticised Guardiola's attitude on the tour and claimed City's "lack of enthusiasm and the indifferent treatment of their hosts" was in stark contrast to the behaviour of Wolverhampton Wanderers, Newcastle United and West Ham United, who have also been competing in the Asia Trophy.

The article accused City of being in China only to "win wallets, not hearts and minds" and comes as an embarrassment to the club, who have strong links with the country.

In 2015, City's Abu Dhabi owners sold a 13 per cent stake in the City Football Group to China Media Capital and, five months ago, they added a Chinese third-tier team, Sichuan Jiuniu, to their global network of clubs.

But Guardiola insisted the allegations were "far away from the reality".

The City manager added: "I should say I don't agree and also that it's false. We had an incredible time in Shanghai. We were committed to the co-operation you have to do in China. The people from the hotel, all the people asking us to do things - we were ready to do that.

"To come to Asia and experience the culture... It's amazing to get to know other people. That's why I can't understand what people are saying - maybe one journalist is a bit upset, I don't know why - but it's far away from the reality."

City's trip to China ran into problems before they had even arrived after their flight from Manchester was twice prevented from taking off in the space of 24 hours following an administrative error by travel company Thomas Cook Sport.

"So we came here 23 hours late, we travel two hours by train to play in Nanjing then back to Shanghai, now here (in Hong Kong), and always with the biggest smile," Guardiola said.

"We don't sleep too well, but even so we make good training sessions for all the guys." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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