Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City’s first clash in the Champions League was against RB Leipzig on Wednesday night (September 15). The game was a nine-goal thriller, where the Citizens outscored the german club with 6-3.
Pep Guardiola was content with his side’s performance on the night but finished his post-match interaction in a surprising manner. He requested more people to attend Saturday’s Premier League game against Southampton. He said:
“I would like more people to come to the next game on Saturday, we need the people next Saturday. Please. We will be tired. I know the team from Ralph [Hasenhuttl, Southampton manager] is quite similar to the way they play. They are so, so dangerous with good quality, and it’s a really important game for us. So I invite to all our people to come next Saturday, 3pm, to watch the game.”
Attendance during the Champions League clash was 38,062 in a stadium that holds just under 54,000.
Manchester City fans have not taken his comments fittingly. The club’s official supporters’ group have questioned why Guardiola felt the need to speak on the issue. General secretary of the club’s official supporters’ club Kevin Parker told Sky Sports:
“[What he said] did surprise me. I’m not sure what that’s got to do with him. He doesn’t understand the difficulties that some people might have got to a game at the Etihad on a Wednesday at 8 pm. They’ve got kids to think of, they might not be able to afford it, [and] there are still some Covid issues about.
I don’t see why he comments on it. He’s absolutely the best coach in the world but, in the nicest possible way, I think maybe he should stick to that. It just takes the edge off what was a good night. People are talking more about Pep’s comments than a fantastic game. To question the support, which is effectively what he is doing, is disappointing and uncalled for.
People refer to the Etihad as the ‘Emptyhad’. It’s a little bit of fun by the opposition supporters but there’s no justification for it. It’s not factual. Our attendance is generally excellent.”
“I will not apologize”: Guardiola stands by his comments
Guardiola asked Parker to ”review” his comments and refused to eat the humble pie. Angry and dissatisfied, Pep responded on Friday that:
“Did I say after the game against Leipzig that I was disappointed because the stadium was not full?” he said. Interpretation is interpretation. I’m not going to apologize for what I said. I’m surprised about what happened with this man. I made an approach [to the support] to do something together again on Saturday at 3pm.
What I said is that we would love, and need, their support. Whether it’s 10,000 people, 50,000 or 40,000 – it doesn’t matter how many come – I invite them to come and enjoy a game. I’d prefer to be with my people than without my people. But if they don’t come for any reason then it’s perfect. If you do, it will be a pleasure.
So Mr Parker should review the comments made a day after. I will not apologise to him, absolutely not. Don’t put words in my mouth, I don’t like it. If I have a problem with the fans I’ll make a step aside. It’s not a problem for me. I am one of them.”
Transfer expert Fabrizio Romano has picked out the 5 best transfers of the summer – Read now!