Pep Guardiola has defended Manchester City’s ‘character’ and hit back at comments from former Manchester United players Patrice Evra and Dimitar Berbatov.
Evra and Berbatov were critical of Guardiola’s side over the manner of their Champions League exit to Real Madrid, as a late collapse saw City concede twice in the final minute to exit the competition in the semi-finals.
Evra questioned whether the City squad possessed leaders in such situations and claimed Guardiola prefers a team without characters to question his decisions.
“Manchester City needs leaders, but Guardiola doesn’t want leaders,” Evra said in the wake of City’s defeat to Real Madrid. “He doesn’t want personality. He’s the leader.
“That’s why when they’re in trouble they don’t have anyone on the pitch to help them.”
Berbatov also spoke on City’s exit and criticised the club’s concentration in the clash, saying that their exit from Europe was ‘unexplainable’.
“I don’t have an explanation about what happened to Man City against Real Madrid, they reminded me of Bayern Munich in 1999 against Man United,” he said.
“It was exactly the same, two goals in the final minutes. If a small team, who don’t have that much talent and class concede two goals at the end of the game, we’ll say it’s because they are a small team with a small mindset and with no winning mentality.
“With it happening to a team like Man City, I don’t even know how to find the right words to explain how this team of all teams, with so many winners, can let in two goals after the 90 minutes in a Champions League semi-final. Yes, they were playing Real Madrid and you can argue that they are a big team with big players, but come on, in the last minute of the game.
“They had to be more concentrated and focused, they should know how to hold that result. I don’t think it’s a mentality issue for City, it’s unexplainable.
“Sometimes you have games like this where you have a great team full of talent, class and champions. Unexpectedly they let goals in during the final moment of the game.”
Guardiola has hit back at those comments and further criticism from Clarence Seedorf, insisting the achievements of his side in recent seasons and response to their defeat to Real Madrid show the character in his squad.
The Spaniard also sent a dig back in the direction of Berbatov and Evra, questioning where the duo’s ‘personality’ was during Manchester United’s Champions League final defeat to his Barcelona team in 2011.
“The character is the same that we lost in Madrid in the last few minutes. Specialist former players like Berbatov and Seedorf, Patrice they weren’t there.
“When I play against them I didn’t see this kind of personality when we [Barcelona] destroyed them in the Champions League final vs United. It’s the same character and personality. We don’t have personality because we concede two goals in two minutes but we had two chances to score and we don’t have personality? After the last four games we score 23 goals we have incredible personality. I’m sorry but I completely disagree about this.
🗣 "I didn't see when I played against them this kind of personality when we destroyed them." 😅
Pep Guardiola responds to the comments from Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra on him being unable to manage "big characters" pic.twitter.com/5JD8tixgH7
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 13, 2022
“Personality is what we have done in the last five years, every three days. Maybe Liverpool win all four titles, maybe they win just one, but you say they don’t have personality, character, they didn’t do an incredible season? Even when they lost the Premier League by one or two points against us, they had a bad season? They don’t have character? Of course they do.
“Sometimes football happens. You cannot control it, emotion, many things. When we are constantly arriving in latter stages, semi-finals, finals last 4-5 years. This is incredible, because we arrive until the end, a lot of games, go through, this is the most important.”