Guardiola: FA chief ‘didn’t understand’ meaning of yellow ribbon
Man City boss says side are still inferior to Barcelona
Pep Guardiola has suggested FA chief executive Martin Glenn did not understand the meaning behind his yellow ribbon. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP
Pep Guardiola believes Manchester City are inferior to Barcelona, saying his team have to dominate for at least a decade to be considered at their level.
City host Basel in Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg holding a 4-0 advantage. Yet despite being virtually through to the quarter-finals and impressing throughout the competition Guardiola is adamant they remain below the quality of five-times winners Barça.
“They have won a lot in the past. We are new – we’ve won one title [the League Cup] but it is not a [fair]comparison,” Guardiola said. “It is not good for us comparing [ourselves]with that Barcelona team. That team dominated the last decade, 15 to 20 years with different managers, different players. We have just won the first title. To join this kind of team you have to be there a long time.”
On Tuesday Mike Riley, the head of Professional Game Match Officials Ltd, met with Txiki Begiristain, City’s sporting director, regarding Guardiola’s concerns about some of the tackles on his players this season. Yet the manager also warned his team they cannot afford the kind of tackle that caused Fabian Delph’s sending off in the FA Cup defeat at Wigan or Oleksandr Zinchenko’s on Victor Moses in Sunday’s win over Chelsea, which drew a yellow card.
“At Wigan one action, the red card. Zinchenko on Moses, it’s orange – could be yellow, could be red. If it is red you are out of the Champions League,” Guardiola said, before pointing to the value of European pedigree.
“Real Madrid [12-times winners] before the first game against PSG it is: ‘Oh Madrid is not good, not playing well.’ They win 3-1,” he said. “It is different competitions. We have a big chance to be in the quarter-final for second time in our history.
“We are almost in the quarter-finals, we are almost champions of the Premier League. We are not in the quarter-finals, we are not champions. That is why we have to be calm. That is the best advice I can give to my players.”
Despite having highlighted the problem of bad tackles Guardiola did not meet Riley. “The press officer informed me 15 minutes ago Mike Riley was here,” he said. “I didn’t know it. I don’t know which issues they talked about. When I spoke about the tackles it is not about Manchester City players, it is about football. I accept the physicality in England.”
Guardiola also said Martin Glenn did not understand what the yellow ribbon he wears represents when the Football Association chief executive compared it with the swastika and Robert Mugabe.
Glenn has since apologised and Guardiola said: “My first impression when I heard that was he didn’t understand exactly what the yellow ribbon means. He made a comment that was far away from what it means. Maybe now he will realise. It’s not about independence or no independence.
“It’s about four people who are in jail [in Catalonia]when they didn’t do absolutely anything to be in jail for. I think with his comments he didn’t understand the reality of what happened right now with the situation but I’m pretty sure now he will know it.”
Having accepted an FA charge of “wearing a political message” Guardiola will stop wearing the ribbon. “At the end there are rules, they [FA]have them and they apply them, I accept the decision because I have to. I accept them but it doesn’t mean I agree with the decision. But I am here, I am working here and there are rules and I accept them.”
Raheem Sterling may be in contention to play against Basel following a hamstring problem but Fernandinho has not recovered from the same injury. “Maybe Basel, maybe Stoke [on Monday]for Raheem,” Guardiola said.