The Premier League season hasn’t even started yet, and Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has already made his first inflammatory comment about potential title rivals Liverpool, who defeated City 2-1 in the International Champions Cup in New Jersey on Thursday.
Quoted by the Manchester Evening News after his side defeated Bayern Munich 3-2 in Miami on Sunday, the City boss was dismissive about the Reds’ goals, which were scored by Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane.
“We lost because of an offside goal and a ridiculous penalty,” insisted Guardiola.
Pre-season matches are rarely regarded as reliable guides to a team’s prospects in the forthcoming season – especially seeing as City fielded a number of inexperienced players against the Reds.
Indeed, Guardiola sounded far more interested in his side’s performances than in the final scores of their matches. “The result doesn’t matter,” he insisted, adding: “It was the way we played and the same today [in the victory over Bayern].”
The Catalan sounded positive about his side’s record in their pre-season matches. “It will be huge experience for these guys to realise we can play against good teams,” he explained, adding: “We have five or six days until the Community Shield and I don’t know which players will be able to play but I am so satisfied with these games.”
Nevertheless, Liverpool’s victory will no doubt give them a psychological boost, as they prepare to launch a serious challenge for the Premier League title currently held by City. The Reds have spent more than £150m on new players this summer – not least Brazil goalkeeper Alisson Becker – and won three of their four clashes with the Sky Blues last season.
Meanwhile, City have acquired winger Riyad Mahrez from Leicester City for £60m – only for the Algerian to pick up an injury against Bayern. Otherwise, it seems that the Citizens will be largely dependent on last season’s squad – which, admittedly, is formidable.