Pep Guardiola branded Mauricio Pochettino’s withering attack a mistake and claimed he has never disrespected Tottenham Hotspur.
Pochettino launched an astonishing tirade towards the Manchester City manager on Friday, infuriated by Guardiola labelling Spurs ‘the Harry Kane team’ after victory against Chelsea.
Tottenham’s boss had been stewing over that remark during the international break and Guardiola passionately defended his comments.
‘I think Mauricio has made a mistake,’ Guardiola said. ‘I’m really disappointed if he said that. Never in my career have I not been respectful.
‘Maybe I can answer when someone attacks my team or my club, but never would I be disrespectful about Mauricio or Tottenham.
‘From the times I spoke with him, maybe my English is not so well, but I was never disrespectful to my colleague. I was never disrespectful in a press conference. Never.
‘When I said about Harry Kane’s team, it was because Harry Kane was scoring a lot of goals, and I know perfectly that Tottenham are not Harry Kane alone.
‘I spoke many times to Mauricio. If he believes this, maybe I should say Pochettino’s team when I said Harry Kane’s team, but I said it because he scored two goals more against Huddersfield and a goal for the national team and another goal for the national team.’
Pochettino believes Guardiola is not magnanimous enough and has also referenced City’s spending power in recent months.
The Catalan was perplexed by Pochettino’s public rebuke, shaking his head when asked to respond to his former Espanyol foe and pointing towards the dozens of occasions he praised Tottenham last season.
‘I think the guy who spoke most about appreciating the way Tottenham play was me,’ Guardiola added. ‘When they lost against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, I said it was incredible, because Chelsea had four shots on target and scored four goals.
‘He knows I said Tottenham are one of the best teams playing. I respect a lot what Tottenham have done in the last two or three years.
‘There is a lot of credit in the way they play, in the way they want to show their football in the Premier League, the way they are always attacking.
‘I’ve said it many times, just review what I said. I spoke after the Chelsea game about how good United are and I gave a lot of credit to Tottenham because last season they finished better than us, and that means a lot.’
Meanwhile, Sergio Aguero will be given until the last minute to prove his fitness ahead of City facing Stoke City. The striker is remarkably back training just a fortnight after breaking a rib in a horror car crash in Amsterdam.
Guardiola would not rule Aguero out: ‘Of course, he’s not 100 per cent, but he’s recovered quite well. It’s not as dangerous as it could have been. He explained to us what happened, you think what might have happened, but now he’s quite well and we’re happy.’