In the wake of over 100 financial charges being brought against Man City by the Premier League, Pep Guardiola has come out on the defensive.
Guardiola’s expression and tone throughout a lengthy press conference ahead of Man City‘s clash with Aston Villa seemed to straddle defiance and menace.
It may be right to question whether such a high-profile employee should be discussing the situation so openly, given the ramifications of a case expected to take up to four years to decide, but nothing appears by the book at Man City.
There was a veneer of denial as Guardiola discussed the situation in an extended sitdown with the media, even bringing up Steven Gerrard’s slip in the 2013/14 title race.
“Come on, they belong to us, absolutely belong to us,” he said when asked if a guilty verdict would taint Man City‘s achievements.
“Regardless of the sentence, they belong to us. The moment with Sergio Aguero, with Balotelli slipping [and playing the pass]…
“I don’t know if we are responsible for Steven Gerrard slipping, you know, in that situation at Anfield.
“I didn’t want it, out of respect for Steven Gerrard, but it’s our fault? Come on. That belongs to us.
“The moments that we live, these years, together, no.
“I think they [if] decide to give the [honours elsewhere], OK, the Premier League will decide.
“But I know we won what we won, in the way we won it, with the effort we put behind.
“To just [overrule that], you know, for something that happened in 2009 or 2010, I don’t know how long it was that [we are alleged to have breached regulations]…
“So no, it’s not going to change one second.”
It has been widely overlooked in the media that Man City were not, in fact, absolved of the charges imposed on them by UEFA in a similar case in 2020 after an appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport (CAS).
On Friday, Guardiola protested that CAS showed them “completely innocent,” but by and large their verdict came as UEFA’s five-year statute of limitations had lapsed.
At the time, nine clubs including Liverpool contacted UEFA appealing for Man City‘s removal from the Champions League, and the Spaniard’s address took a turn as he recalled that situation.
“[Jealousy] is part of sport. When you are a team, you’re winning, you want to beat them, and that’s nice. So it’s happened, it’s part of sport,” he said.
“But what these nine teams have done, I said before what happened last Monday, what these nine teams have done, I don’t forget it.
“These nine teams, I don’t forget what they’ve done.
“They want the position, the Champions League, for the big amount of money, to pay for the stadiums they built.
“So it’s OK, but we won it. There can be suspicions, that’s OK, it’s OK. They doubt us. It’s OK. There are accusations, it’s OK.
“I’ll wait. We can go with our lawyer and say ‘listen, we have done this’, [like] what happened with UEFA. Wait. They didn’t, not even one second.”