Wednesday 21 February 2018

Pep Guardiola: I'll share a glass of wine with Jose Mourinho after Manchester derby

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have had a few run-ins in their time
Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola have had a few run-ins in their time

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola has insisted he will share a glass of wine with Jose Mourinho after Saturday's Manchester derby – providing an offer comes.

The Manchester City manager also confirmed that Claudio Bravo will start in goal and has no hesitation about handing the former Barcelona goalkeeper his debut at Old Trafford.

Guardiola’s rivalry with Mourinho turned toxic in Spain as rival coaches at Barcelona and Real Madrid but the Catalan said they had talked happily enough at a recent League Managers’ Association meeting and that he would accept a post-match drink with his Manchester United counterpart if asked.

“I will accept if he [Mourinho] invites me,” Guardiola said. “He [Mourinho] was my coach, my assistant coach with Sir Bobby Robson [at Barcelona]. The last meeting in Madrid with Barcelona was not easy but we met each other two or three weeks ago in the Premier League managers’ [meeting] and we spoke fluently with Ronald Koeman, with Tony Pulis so it was ok.

“I have said many times, I have a lot of respect for him. I always try to learn from all my colleagues and I learn from him as well. The rivalry is more media.”

Guardiola also said he had no problem with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the United striker with whom he endured a fractious relationship at Barcelona.

“I have a lot of respect for Zlatan and what he has done in the football world and his career,” the City manager said. “He has had a big impact in what he did everywhere and he is amazing, especially on the pitch. I have a lot of respect for him, what he has done for football. He is one of the best players and the best players they have an impact. The big players don’t have to understand the league or need time.”

Bravo has only trained for two days but is expected to replace Willy Caballero in goal in the wake of his initial £13.75 million move from Barcelona.

“He is fit, he is ready. This kind of player, 32, 33 years old, he has the experience,” Guardiola said. “He has to save the goals.

“Claudio is okay. He had a little bit of a problem in his leg but he trained today.”

Guardiola said two other new signings, Leroy Sane and Ilkay Gundogan, both of whom are waiting to make their debuts after injuries, were also available but he is unlikely to take a chance on captain Vincent Kompany.

“Sane, in terms of his condition, is the best player [fitness wise] in this moment,” he said. “Gundogan is much better. Kompany is training but we are waiting for the doctor to say what his blood test is. We don’t want to take too much risk after what happened in the past. We want to make sure that when he comes back he is 100 percent fit.”

United and City have both made 100 per cent starts to the season and Guardiola believes both sides are getting better with each game and insists he will not be compromising his style of play.

“I would like to play how we did in the last five official games and after we know against which opponents we play tomorrow,” he said. “I saw in the 10 days, the four games and every game Manchester United played better than they did before. I think the same with us. They have a lot of talent up front, [Juan] Mata between the lines is so dangerous, the full-backs go so offensive and the quality of [Wayne] Rooney and Ibrahimovic, and [Anthony] Martial is so so fast and the set pieces with tall guys is impossible to control so they are a top team.

“It depends on the way we play. I believe in the past and I believe now and until the last day of my career, I believe you have to play good to win. I want the ball, I want to attack as much as possible, I want to control the game and I want to concede few counter-attacks. To try to play good.

“Jose is the same as me [in that] he needs time in his new club and we need time and the world is not allowed to give you time. We are going to try to continue with the things and improve what you have still to improve. For the short times, we play good in some moments, especially in Bucharest and West Ham until the West Ham goal, Stoke City I realised how tough the Premer League is.”

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