Belfast Telegraph

Guardiola avoids war of words with Warnock ahead of Cardiff return

Manchester City won 2-0 at the then-Championship club in a controversial FA Cup tie in January.

Pep Guardiola has refused to engage in an argument with Neil Warnock over tackling ahead of Manchester City’s Premier League trip to Cardiff on Saturday.

The two sides met in a controversial FA Cup fourth-round tie last season in which City’s Leroy Sane suffered ankle ligament damage following a bad challenge from Cardiff’s Joe Bennett.

After the game City manager Guardiola called for referees to protect players better.

Cardiff boss Warnock has revisited the controversy ahead of this weekend’s encounter by claiming that, while agreeing with Guardiola over the Sane incident, another tackle in the same game went relatively unnoticed.

“If you watched in the 50th minute there was a tackle from Kevin De Bruyne on Jazz Richards that put him out for 17 games,” said Warnock in his pre-match press conference.

“So I would say ‘which is the worst?’ That sounds like a worse tackle than Bennett’s, but we didn’t make a song and dance about that.”

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Pep Guardiola had a point to make to referee Lee Mason after the FA Cup clash with Cardiff last season (Nick Potts/PA).

Guardiola was unwilling to speak about the comments when they were put to him at his own press conference, saying, with a smile, that he had “nice words” with Warnock after the game in January.

Guardiola said: “I’m not going to discuss a game that happened six or seven months ago, the decisions of the referee. I’m not going to play that game.”

Guardiola also does not expect Sane to be affected as he returns to the Cardiff City Stadium.

He said: “He’s forgotten it. It’s a new game. It’s months ago, a different competition, an FA Cup game. Now it’s a Premier League game.

“We’ll play our game and try to maintain the physicality. It’s happened in all the games and now we try to make a good performance.”

Guardiola has no concerns over the form of striker Gabriel Jesus, who has scored just one goal this season and struggled in Wednesday’s Champions League loss to Lyon.

He said of the 21-year-old: “He’s happy. He’s been good so far with his performances. His movement, his high pressing is the best in the world, but he’s still young and they have a gap to improve.

“We have to help in the final third, to take decisions, to find spaces. It’s the most important thing for Gabriel Jesus to know he can improve and pay attention in the training sessions.”

Guardiola is also looking forward to continuing to work with City’s record goalscorer Sergio Aguero, who has agreed a contract extension to 2021.

The 30-year-old has not always seemed an obvious fit for Guardiola’s playing style, but any concerns seem to have been overcome now.

“I’m delighted he can continue here,” said Guardiola. “We know each other better, as a player and human being, and that’s the most important thing.”

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