Saturday 19 October 2019

WATCH: 'Nope. No, no, no' - Pep Guardiola reveals Man City had no interest in signing Virgil van Dijk

Pep Guardiola and (inset) Virgil van Dijk, who signed for Liverpool
Pep Guardiola and (inset) Virgil van Dijk, who signed for Liverpool

Pep Guardiola has revealed that Manchester City were never interested in signing Virgil van Dijk.

The centre half has signed for Liverpool for £75million, a world record for a defender. broke the story last week when Kevin Palmer reported Liverpool were close to getting the deal over the line and that triggered numerous stories in the media suggesting Manchester City had edged ahead in the race for the Dutchman.

But Guardiola categorically insisted he had no interest in Van Dijk when asked after last night's 1-0 win over Newcastle United.

"Nope, No, no, no," was the Spaniard's blunt response.

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Guardiola also warned the rest of the Premier League that Manchester City will find a way to beat them whatever they do.

Guardiola saw his side establish a 15-point gap over city rivals United at the top of the table with a 1-0 victory at Newcastle on Wednesday evening, in the process equalling Chelsea record of 11 successive away wins.

They were made to fight all the way as Rafael Benitez's men adopted an ultra-defensive approach before going for broke at the death, although the City boss was not fazed by what he saw.

He said: "As a manager, I have to adapt my team to convince them. In these 18 games, we have played against teams who have done high pressing, low pressing, counter-attacks, just set pieces, just like Tottenham who tried to go forward and attack, and in all of them, we have been able to beat them.

"The magnificent thing about football and any manager of any team is they can play any way. Teams can try to trick you, but you have to be able to beat them and until now we have been able to do that.

"Until now, we have found a way to win."

City's win was secured by Raheem Sterling's 31st-minute strike, although they also hit the woodwork twice and saw Magpies keeper Rob Elliot produce a string of fine saves to keep the home side in it.

Guardiola said: "Of course, this was tough - it's the Premier League and everyone says this is the toughest one. But if you analyse 90 minutes, we were much, much better and created enough chances in the first half and the start of the second half.

"If you analysed the last 10 minutes when they crossed once and could have scored one goal, it might have been different, but we were much better.

"It's not easy to maintain our focus in that period. Everyone is on holiday, everyone has a party at home. To be focused after 17 games in a row is not easy, but we did it."

Opposite number Benitez was pragmatic after a fifth successive home defeat for the first time since 1953, despite searing criticism of his approach from television pundits Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher.

He said: "If we scored a goal at the end, they would be really pleased with the performance of the team.

"When you play against Manchester City, you have to be aware of the way they are doing things now. You just have to look at what happened when they played against Tottenham, Bournemouth or Swansea.

"We were in the game right until the end, it was very close. We were pushing in the final 20 minutes and had a couple of chances.

"It was a pity because we could have got a point against what is a very good team. They had some chances in the first half, and even in the second, but you have to remember we were playing against a team that had not lost any games."

Additional reporting by PA

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