Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has hit back at criticism of his squad’s character from Patrice Evra and Dimitar Berbatov by saying, “I didn’t see this personality when I destroyed them” in two Champions League finals.
Evra and Berbatov were part of the United squads which were outclassed by Guardiola’s Barcelona in the 2009 and 2011 Champions League finals, tasting defeat on both occasions.
After City crashed out of the Champions League semi-final at Real Madrid following a Rodrygo double inside a minute at the Bernabeu, Evra claimed they lacked leaders because Guardiola “can’t train people with personality” and Berbatov suggested it was the capitulation of a “small team”.
🗣 "I didn't see when I played against them this kind of personality when we destroyed them." 😅
Pep Guardiola responds to the comments from Dimitar Berbatov and Patrice Evra on him being unable to manage "big characters" pic.twitter.com/5JD8tixgH7
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) May 13, 2022
City shrugged off the disappointment of the dramatic defeat in Madrid by scoring five goals in consecutive games against Wolves and Newcastle to leave themselves in a commanding position in the title race.
But the criticism from the former United players was still fresh in the mind of Guardiola when asked about City’s recovery from that result and the character they have shown, as he unleashed a scathing response.
“It’s the same character and personality that we lost in Madrid in the last two or three minutes,” said Guardiola of his side’s form in the Premier League since the trip to Spain.
“Former players like Berbatov, Clarence Seedorf and Patrice Evra and these types of people were there, and I played against them. I didn’t see this kind of personality when I destroyed them, we destroyed them, in the Champions League final against United” he mockingly stated.
Aymeric Laporte faces a late fitness test ahead of Sunday’s crucial Premier League trip to West Ham, live on Sky Sports, as Guardiola’s centre-back injury crisis continues.
Laporte became the latest injury concern at the heart of the City defence after suffering a knee problem at Wolves on Wednesday, joining Kyle Walker, John Stones and Ruben Dias in the treatment room.
Meanwhile, Nathan Ake, potentially City’s only remaining recognised centre-back, and make-shift defender Fernandinho are both also struggling with injury.
“They are in treatment and we’ll see tomorrow who is available. Until the day of the game we will not be able to decide the availability of the players,” said Guardiola.
He said: “We need four points to be champions. Win at West Ham and it will be almost done.”