Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has fired back at claims that the clubs has shown “utter disrespect” during its pre-season tour to China.
Premier League champions City are on a money-spinning Far East tour as they seek to boost their brand in the growing football market in the region.
They played a friendly against West Ham in Nanjing last week and also faced Wolves in Shanghai over the weekend.
But the team’s conduct in China was criticized in a scathing commentary piece published by the Xinhua news agency, which accused City of showing “utter disrespect” toward their hosts.
“For the Premier League champions, their appearance in China was nothing more than a commercial obligation, and their lack of enthusiasm and the indifferent treatment of their hosts stands in stark contrast to representatives of other clubs,” the piece in English reads.
It also accused City of “sidelining” local media and treating them differently to foreign colleagues, and of having a “desire to win wallets, not hearts and minds” among locals.
But angry City boss Guardiola has shot back against the claims, calling them “far from reality.”
“I don’t agree and it’s false,” a visibly irritated Guardiola said at a press conference on Tuesday as his team prepare to face local club Kitchee FC in Hong Kong.
“I’ve been impressed with my players so far and let’s see for the rest of the tour. I completely disagree with the journalist – that’s not the reality,” the 48-year-old added.
“Off the pitch we are showing what an amazing club we are and how we are trying to be better every season.
“I’m so proud of what we’ve done – all the marketing departments, all the people who’ve organized this tour. And maybe next year or in two years we are going to come back to China when the club decides we should come.”
That response was echoed by forward Raheem Sterling, who said the players had “embraced the fans” and that “there was a really good connection.” (RT)