Pep Guardiola has attempted to clarify his remarks about supporters after calling for fans to turn out in larger numbers for Tuesday’s clash against Manchester United.
The City boss expressed frustration after a crowd of 39,223 attended Sunday’s FA Cup tie against Fulham at the Etihad Stadium, a figure well below the venue’s 55,000 capacity.
Some fans took offence at Guardiola’s comments, feeling the manager was not taking into account the considerable cost to fans of attending the high number of games the club are playing.
Guardiola insists he does understand the concerns of fans and was merely expressing a natural desire to see a full house.
The former Barcelona boss said: “First of all, of course I understand it. Never was it my intention to offend them. They are part of us.
“But since I arrived here, from day one until the last day, what I want is to fight and play as good as possible to see Etihad Stadium full every single game.
“It belongs to us to play good to seduce them to come because the only reason why we do our job and I do my job is not for the titles, it’s to go to the Etihad Stadium and see it absolutely full with people, together enjoying games.
“Of course I understand it’s difficult for the people to do that. It’s not necessary to tell me because I was part of that when I was a little boy with mum and dad. I know exactly what happens.
“It was my mistake that I thought, ‘Oh it’s Sunday 1pm, today will be full’. I didn’t know it was BBC, not Sky, so they can watch it and people can decide whether to go to the stadium or not.
“If it is possible to be every single game full it will be better because it’s the sense of doing something for our people and I know how to appreciate them.
“I know them, we feel them, they chant, and it is so nice to have them but I know for them it’s not easy. That is why I will always be grateful to the support.”
City host United in the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final, leading 3-1 from the first encounter earlier this month.
After their dominant performance at Old Trafford, City are firm favourites but Guardiola is not taking anything for granted.
He said: “It’s Man United. They can do it, they have done it. In these kind of games against incredible teams with incredible history, they have pride and I know how difficult it will be to reach the final.”
Guardiola has also weighed into the debate about the fielding of weakened teams in cup competitions.
He said: “We accept the schedules of the competitions, the games every two or three days, but don’t tell the manager which the selection he has to choose, please. That’s our job.”