Pep Guardiola has hit back at Patrice Evra and Dimitar Berbatov for appearing to question Manchester City’s mentality, reminding the former Manchester United pair that one of his teams “destroyed” them in a Champions League final.
City have responded in style to their dramatic collapse in the semi-final second leg against Real Madrid last week, scoring 10 goals in two games to go within four points of clinching the Premier League title.
In the wake of the defeat at Santiago Bernabeu, Evra claimed that Guardiola “doesn’t want leaders”. “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,” he added.
Berbatov claimed that the manner of City’s exit was would more normally be expected from “a small team” but stopped short of criticising City or their character. “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.”
Clarence Seedorf was also name-checked by Guardiola, following his comments that other coaches should not attempt to copy the City manager’s style.
Both Evra and Berbatov played for United against Guardiola’s Barcelona in the 2011 Champions League final, losing 3-1 at Wembley in a one-sided affair, and the Catalan made sure to remind them both of that fact on Friday.
“It’s the same character and personality that lost in Madrid that we have had for the last years,” he said when asked about his team’s response to the defeat, ahead of a Premier League trip to West Ham on Sunday.
“Specialist former players like Berbatov, Seedorf and Evra and these types of people weren’t there. I’ve played against them, and I didn’t see this kind of personality when we destroyed United in the Champions League final.
“You cannot have personality because you concede two goals in one minutes after you have chances to score? And after the last four games we scored 19 goals so we have incredible personality and these kind of things? I’m sorry but I completely disagree. Personality is what we have done in the last five years every three days in all competitions.
“Maybe Liverpool is going to win all four titles or maybe just one but I’m going to say that they don’t have personality and character, they didn’t do an incredible season even when they lost the Premier League by one or two points to us? They don’t have character and personality? Of course they do.
“Sometimes, football is like this and it just happens. We cannot control many things but when you always arrive in the last stages for four or five years, chapeau. This is incredible. We arrive until the end playing good because otherwise you don’t arrive. This is the most important thing.”