Pep Guardiola has refused to back down after his emotive plea to the Man City fanbase courted controversy midweek.
Following their 6-3 goalfest victory over RB Leipzig on Wednesday, Guardiola appealed to Man City regarding their lack of attendance. Just 38,062 turned out to watch the Champions League opener in a stadium capable of holding 53,000 on European nights.
His unprompted comments may have been well-intentioned but they have irked some City fans who feel they have led to an unfair questioning of their loyalty.
“I would like more people to come to the next game on Saturday,” Guardiola told BT Sport. “We will need the people next Saturday, please, because we will be tired. I invite all our people to come next Saturday, 3pm, and watch the game.”
That led to a stern rebuttal from Kevin Parker – the general secretary of Man City’s official supporters’ club.
Now, speaking in his Friday press conference, Guardiola refused to apologise for his comments. Instead he doubled down when again asking the fanbase to turn out in greater numbers.
“Did I say after the game that I was disappointed that the stadium was not full? An interpretation is an interpretation,” said Guardiola (via the PA).
“I am not going to apologise for what I said. What I said was we need the support. It doesn’t matter how many people come but I invite them to come and enjoy the game because we need the support.
“I am entirely grateful for the support that we had against Leipzig. I’ve always said if guys want to come we will be incredibly grateful because I know how difficult the game will be and I know we need our people.
“I never sit here and ask why people don’t come. If you can’t come then don’t.”
Guardiola went on to express his condolences to defender Nathan Ake, whose father died on Wednesday.
Ake scored City’s opener in the 6-3 victory over Leipzig and revealed on Thursday that his goal was one of the last things his father saw.
Guardiola said: “Nathan has shown his personality. We are concerned, we are sad. Our condolences to his mother and brother, family and friends, and his fiancée. All we can say is we are here for him.”
Man City, Man Utd learn Fati fate
Meanwhile, a meeting has been scheduled that will determine the future of a Barcelona sensation who has drawn links with Man Utd and Man City, per multiple reports.
Spanish wonderkid Ansu Fati was also tipped to leave Barcelona this summer. The 18-year-old forward was on the radar of both Manchester clubs.
A Spanish report claimed Man Utd had seen a mammoth bid rebuffed, while it recently emerged Fati was reportedly offered to Man City during their negotiations with Cristiano Ronaldo. Fati and Ronaldo share the same agent – Jorge Mendes.
Man City’s interest has been backed up by Mundo Deportivo (via Football Espana). They confirm Man City ‘put in a call’ to enquire about Fati’s availability during Ronaldo’s negotiations.
However, in a fresh update from SportsMole (citing Marca), it’s revealed a meeting will soon be scheduled that will determine Fati’s future.
The teen has apparently told agent Mendes that he ‘sees his future’ at Barcelona. As such, he has ordered a new round of talks over a new contract to begin.