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Pep Guardiola hits back at Porto manager’s claim that Manchester City put pressure on referees

Mark Critchley
·2-min read
Pep Guardiola and Sergio Conceicao (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Pep Guardiola and Sergio Conceicao (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Pep Guardiola has hit back at Sergio Conceicao ahead of his reunion with the Porto manager, insisting that he does not put pressure on referees to award decisions in Manchester City’s favour.

After a fiery meeting at the Etihad last month, which City eventually won 3-1, Conceicao accused Guardiola and his staff of being disrespectful on the touchline and of trying to influence the officials.

“I’ve got a lot to learn from Pep Guardiola, in the way he pressures referees, talks to opposition players and opposition dugout,” Conceicao said. “He’s a fantastic example. I have to learn this. We were angels compared to the other dugout.”

Guardiola dismissed those suggestions ahead of the reverse fixture at the Estadio do Dragao and maintained that he and his assistants have never attempted to sway referees throughout their spells at Barcelona, Bayern Munich and City.

“I'm not agreeing,” Guardiola said. “He can say, maybe it's his opinion but I'm not agreeing that we pressure the referees. It's not the way that we in the history speak for ourselves. We are not the type of team to do this, honestly. I would admit it.

Read more: Manchester City’s attack reminds us not to rush to judgement

“One thing is an action that you don't agree [with], you can make any comment, one specific action. But it's not a part of who we are, honestly.

“In the five years we are here together and the people in Germany and Spain, know completely that it speaks for itself, our behaviour. I'm not agreeing. It's not true.”

Guardiola nevertheless expects a similarly fraught evening in Porto on Tuesday, even with qualification to the knock-out stages assured. City only require one point in order to win Group C outright and be seeded in the last-16 draw.

“It will be a tough physical game, for sure. It was here,” Guardiola said. “[Porto] have an incredible team spirit, they fight for each other. Their physicality is outstanding and it will be tough, but that’s normal. It’s the Champions League away.

“The quality they have, with Benfica the top two teams in Portugal. It's the same as Olympiakos, they have to win every weekend and when you have this mentality in the club, not just in the players but all departments, that makes them so dangerous.

“That's why I expected when they came here it would be difficult and tomorrow will be the same."

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