In the days leading up to last weekend’s Manchester derby, Mourinho claimed that cynical fouls aimed at stopping quick counter-attacks are a key part of Guardiola’s game plan at Manchester City.
“It is a strategy they have,” the Manchester United manager said. “Many times they need what is called a tactical foul. Then it is up to the referee to analyse and make a decision, but I cannot speak about that.”
The Football Association have asked Mourinho to explain those comments, which could be perceived as putting undue pressure on Michael Oliver, the referee who took charge of City’s 2-1 win at Old Trafford.
Ahead of Tottenham Hotspur’s visit to the Etihad on Saturday, Guardiola denied that intentional fouls were part of his tactical plan, insisting he only sends his team out to dominate possession and play football.
“I don't know how many fouls we make on the pitch,” he said. “I think when you have 70 per cent of possession, we are not the most. It can happen, we have the ball and we kick each other. I think that happens in football. Normally we have the ball, over 70 per cent.
“I don't know statistics, believe me but never, never, never have I said that message to my players. You can ask my players, these players and the old players,” he added. “Normally I don't use this kind of message.”
Guardiola admitted his players are not guilt-free and that, like any other team they concede fouls, but insisted he merely tells them “to be ready” and “to be close” in order to stop opposition counter-attacks.
“Of course we make fouls, of course we do,” he said. “We are not a saint but it's because sometimes tripping, you make a foul, it's a yellow card, something like that. That's football.
“Again, when you have the high average in trying to keep the ball and play the ball, that's what we try to do.”
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