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I will never manage United, says Guardiola

Guardiola was on United’s radar to replace Sir Alex Ferguson but had already agreed to join Bayern Munich when the Scot retired in 2013.

In Summary

• United went on to win the Premier League but have not come close to winning another, whereas Guardiola has two titles — to add to the three Bundesliga crowns he won at Bayern Munich.

• However, he is certain United’s current malaise will not continue indefinitely and believes, under Solskjaer, they are starting to develop the style of play he is looking for.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with his Manchester City's Pep Guardiola during a recent match
Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with his Manchester City's Pep Guardiola during a recent match
Image: /REUTERS

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola says he would never manage Manchester United and would prefer to go on holiday than take over at Old Trafford.

Guardiola was on United’s radar to replace Sir Alex Ferguson but had already agreed to join Bayern Munich when the Scot retired in 2013.

The Spaniard said his status at City means he would not join United even if it was the only offer he had.

“If I didn’t have any offers, I would be in the Maldives,” he said. “Maybe not the Maldives because it doesn’t have any golf courses but after training City, I won’t train United, just like I would never train Madrid,” said Guardiola, speaking before his side’s trip to Old Trafford in the Carabao Cup last night. “Definitely not.”

Ferguson famously met Guardiola for dinner in New York in 2012. At the time, the former Barcelona coach was on his sabbatical year and Ferguson was still to decide he would end his own illustrious career just months later. Ferguson asked to be kept abreast of Guardiola’s plans but the return call never came.

United went on to win the Premier League but have not come close to winning another, whereas Guardiola has two titles — to add to the three Bundesliga crowns he won at Bayern Munich.

The 48-year-old has won 20 major honours, all with the distinctive tactics he learned from legendary Dutchman Johan Cruyff when he was a player at Barcelona.

It is for that reason former England skipper Gary Lineker recently said on Twitter that Guardiola has ‘changed the way we play/think about the game’ and has had ‘arguably the most positive influence of anyone, ever on our game’.

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer understands the sentiment but, for the Norwegian, Ferguson remains peerless.

“I admire Pep’s teams,” he said. “He is one of the best managers ever and you can see where he has taken his wisdom from but I have to say I worked under the most influential one. But when you watch City, you have to admire what they are trying to do. They stick true to their values and beliefs.”

Before last night’s match, Guardiola had three wins at Old Trafford from four visits as City boss, yet recorded only one victory from the same number of meetings at the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola has no answer to the bizarre sequence, which continued last month when United deservedly beat his team 2-1 at the Etihad.

However, he is certain United’s current malaise will not continue indefinitely and believes, under Solskjaer, they are starting to develop the style of play he is looking for.

“I have incredible respect for this club,” he said. “In every club’s history there are periods when you struggle a bit. But they will be back. Sooner or later they will be in the positions to fight for the Premier League title.”

The issue of ‘tactical fouls’ has again been a talking point around a Manchester derby. Guardiola is adamant he has never instructed any of his players to deliberately foul an opposition player to halt a counter-attack, although his words would have more credence were it not for his former assistant and current Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta telling City’s midfield players to do exactly that in the Amazon documentary released about the club earlier this season.

Solskjaer does feel there is an issue.

“Sometimes I look at the referees and look at our games and even if they are just little fouls, there have been teams who have stopped us with them, which has stopped us showing how good we are when we attack,” he said.