Pep Guardiola hits back at Facundo Pellistri over dig at Manchester City
Tensions are starting to heat up ahead of Sunday's derby showdown.
The two rivals go head-to-head at Old Trafford on Sunday, with a victory for the Red Devils propelling them to within three points of the champions despite a difficult start to the season.
In the build-up to the derby, 21-year-old United winger Pellistri aimed a dig at City by claiming he plays a game with his girlfriend where they try to spot City supporters while out and about in Manchester – but they never find any.
‘I don’t go out much but obviously here in Manchester when I go out and I see things, it’s all United, you barely see any City,’ Pellistri told the Uruguayan radio station Carve Deportiva.
‘The two teams are in the same city but it’s all United. Now obviously even more United shirts are appearing because it’s close to the derby and they all want to show [their colours] but it’s quite calm. As I said, it’s all United.
‘You don’t see City shirts or flags. Sometimes, with my girlfriend or my family, we go out and say, “Let’s try to find one,” and we don’t see them.
‘City fill their stadium, they have a lot of fans, but we are in the same city and all you can see in the city are the shirts of United.’
City boss Guardiola gave Pellistri’s comments short shrift when they were put to him at his pre-match press conference on Friday, jokingly suggesting he would get in touch with the club’s shirt manufacturers Puma.
Asked about Pellistri’s comments, Guardiola replied: ‘I will speak with the Puma department and see what happened, why we don’t have shirts.
‘It’s okay. If this guy and his girlfriend believe that, it’s fine.’
When the journalist switched gears to ask a ‘more serious question’, Guardiola quipped with a big grin on his face: ‘Are you saying it’s not serious what Pellistri said?’
Asked about the nature of the rivalry between the two clubs, the Spaniard continued: ‘It’s a good rivalry. I think there’s respect for each club, so no big issues happen in my eight seasons here.
‘Nothing big issues happen. We won games, we lost games and of course the FA Cup final was special because they wanted to win and avoid us winning the treble.
‘And for us of course it was so important to arrive to Istanbul to have the challenge to do what we have done.’
For more stories like this, check our sport page.