Having realised that he might just be giving Liverpool a little extra motivation heading into Sunday’s clash of title favourites by suggesting Sadio Mané was prone to diving, leading to a pointed response from Jürgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola has spent the last 24 hours trying to clarify his comments.
“I said to my players that it is not lucky,” he said of his message to his Manchester City players about Liverpool’s ability to seemingly always get the result they need, no matter how late they leave it or the game situation. “If it happens once or twice then yes, it’s luck, but 10 or 12 or 13 times?
“That was the intention for my comment. Far away from my intention was to say Sadio is this type of player because I admire him a lot. That speech was long. It was praise for Liverpool. To say it’s lucky again? No, it happens many times at Anfield because they push and they push.”
He also went on to talk about how the message he delivers to his players, that Liverpool winning late whether it’s via a well worked goal or penalty isn’t down to luck but rather talent and belief and drive, is also one he tells his children when they too see a late Reds win and call it lucky.
Whether his new message will work or whether Mané and Liverpool have already been given a little bulletin board material to push them on to even more this Sunday remains to be seen—and alternately, of course, this isn’t the sort of tie for which one would expect more of anything is needed.
“That’s why it’s nice to face them and try to compete with them,” Guardiola added of Liverpool and what he says is meant as complimentary admiration, not criticism. “Hopefully I can clarify everything for Jurgen.”