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No regrets over joining City - Guardiola remembers Ferguson advance

9 December 2017 23:30

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insists there was no chance of him becoming Manchester United boss, even after being wined and dined by Alex Ferguson in New York.

Guardiola's City make the short trip to Old Trafford with an eight-point advantage over their rivals at the top of the Premier League.

The former Barcelona boss locking horns once again with old adversary Jose Mourinho is a mouthwatering prospect, especially given the United manager's claims this week that City players go to ground and seek fouls too readily for his liking.

But pondering how close Guardiola came to taking up residence in the opposite dugout is also intriguing, given Ferguson's informal approach to the Catalan tactician during a one-year hiatus before taking charge of Bayern Munich in 2013.

"I had dinner with Pep Guardiola in New York in 2012, but couldn't make him any direct proposal because retirement was not on my agenda at that point," Ferguson said in his book Leading, having lost Champions League finals to Guardiola's Barca in 2009 and 2011.

"He had already won an enviable number of trophies with Barcelona… and I admired him greatly. I asked Pep to phone me before he accepted an offer from another club, but he didn't and wound up joining Bayern Munich in July 2013."

Asked about the meeting ahead of Sunday's Manchester derby, Guardiola suggested a language barrier between himself and the Glaswegian might have resulted in some crossed wires.

"Maybe in that period – it's not perfect right now, it is a little bit better – my English was not good and maybe I did not understand him," he said.

"We talked about life, about football, about the Premier League. But he never sent me a message under the table to say, 'maybe United will be involved' or something like that. I don't remember that.

"It was just two colleagues in football talking about many, many things. When he spoke a little bit fast it was difficult to understand him. But it was nice because he chose an amazing restaurant and, of course, he paid."

Guardiola maintained City were always his first choice as a prospective Premier League employer as a result of sustained interest from chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak and director of football Txiki Begiristain.

"In that period, I had already talked with Bayern Munich and I was clear in my mind to live that magnificent experience in Germany," he said.

"Bayern Munich was the first one to call me alongside Manchester City but I decided to go to Germany, learn Deutsch [German] and live that experience.

"After that, Manchester City was there from the beginning. I said, okay, if I go to the Premier League I will go with them because I met Txiki, I met Khaldoon during the last period in Munich and they showed more interest than any other club to pick me up.

"That was so important for me and that's why I decided to come here. Believe me, I don't have any regrets over that."

Even if he was not susceptible to – or, indeed, aware of – Ferguson's advances, a season-and-a-half in the Premier League has made Guardiola an even firmer admirer of the hero from the other side of town.

"It's magnificent what he has done," he added. "Sometimes you are lucky to be manager in one period where you have a group or generation of amazing players and you win a lot of titles.

"He was able to move a generation out, bring in a new one and win again. That is so complicated.

"I respect a lot the long careers. Not only Sir Alex, also Arsene [Wenger] and Jose because it means a lot for me. Football is one day but it is another one and another one. At the end you say, 'wow' – it is a long time. [I have] big admiration for his career."

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