Football

Shake it off

Guardiola, Mourinho play down rivalry ahead of first Manchester Derby 
outside UK

INTERNATIONAL 
CHAMPIONS CUP

MAN CITY v MAN UNITED

(Tonight, 7.30pm, StarHub TV Ch 213)

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola and his Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho may not have seen eye to eye in the past.

However, ahead of their meeting tonight, their first since the 2013 Super Cup between Bayern Munich and Chelsea, both rivals insisted that they will have no issues shaking hands with each other.

The pair endured a fractious relationship when managing Barcelona and Real Madrid, respectively, with the subject of that rivalry quickly arising on the eve of their International Champions Cup encounter.

Guardiola was quick to swat away questions over his relationship with Mourinho, though, and sees no reason why there will be anything but a "really friendly game" in Beijing's imposing Bird's Nest Stadium, which plays host to the first Manchester Derby on foreign soil.

"We are polite guys," Guardiola said, looking surprised to be asked whether he would shake Mourinho's hand.

'WE'LL SHAKE HANDS'

"Why not? Why should we not shake hands? No reason why. He will want to win, I will want to win. That's all."

Mourinho sang from the same hymn sheet.

When asked if he would offer his hand to Guardiola, he replied: "Of course, I will shake his hand. Why wouldn't I?"

"We worked together for three years (at Barcelona), we were opponents but we are professionals.

"I don't see why I wouldn't shake his hand."

It is the pitch in Beijing that is of more concern on both their minds.

Heavy rainfall over the past week has damaged the playing surface at the Bird's Nest.

In a bid to prevent damaging the pitch further, City and United agreed to train at the nearby Olympic Sports Centre yesterday.

An International Champions Cup spokesman said the surface would be "fine", but Guardiola's concerns were understandable.

"We didn't see the pitch but there is a lot of water in the last days, so we understand it's not in a good condition, but okay we're going to adapt and adjust," the City boss said.

"It's our second game of preparation. The most important thing is that the players are not going to be injured.

"We know the humidity for the training is not ideal but we also know that it's so important to come here to know the people and to play a good two games against amazing teams like United and Dortmund.

"We don't want to expend too much energy in training because of the humidity but we stay here, we play, and then go back to Manchester for two more weeks of preparation before the first official game."

Guardiola and midfielder Fernandinho were given towels during a sweltering press conference that offered little respite from the heat and humidity.

Vincent Kompany was among those training yesterday morning, albeit away from his teammates as the City captain looks to bounce back from a difficult run of injuries.

Guardiola confirmed the Belgium defender, 30, will not play tonight, but could be ready for their Aug 13 season-opener against Sunderland.

"The most important thing is for Vincent to get fit," he said.

"If it's for Sunderland, perfect. If it's against the defending champions, perfect. He has to get fit. That's all."

Since taking on their respective Manchester football giants, each manager has insisted he will not concentrate too much on each other.

But Guardiola acknowledged that United would mount a serious challenge in the English Premier League after a period in the doldrums since the retirement of Alex Ferguson in 2013.

"It's too early to know how they will be.

"I'm pretty sure they will be stronger than in previous years," said Guardiola.

"With this manager, I'm sure they will buy new players. They will be a strong team."

City will play Dortmund in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen on Thursday to conclude their China tour. - Wire Services.


Guardiola’s record against Mourinho

PLAYED


16

Wins

8

Draws


5

Losses


3

Footballmanchester cityManchester UnitedInternational Champions Cup