Pep refuses to start fresh war of words with Jose

AFP
United manager Mourinho attempted to provoke Guardiola on Tuesday after pointing to their rivals' huge spending power by claiming "City buy fullbacks for the price of strikers".
AFP
Reuters

Manchester City's Raheem Sterling (right) scores the only goal against Newcastle United during their English Premier League match at St James' Park in Newcastle on December 27, 2017.

Pep Guardiola refused to be drawn into a war of words with Jose Mourinho after Manchester City maintained its impressive progress towards the English Premier League title.

City stretched its commanding advantage at the top to 15 points over Manchester United as Raheem Sterling sealed a 1-0 win at Newcastle United to record an 18th consecutive league victory, one short of Bayern Munich's current best for Europe's top five leagues of 19 straight wins.

United manager Mourinho attempted to provoke Guardiola on Tuesday after pointing to their rivals' huge spending power by claiming "City buy fullbacks for the price of strikers" and insisting that the 300 million pounds (US$402 million) he has spent since taking charge at Old Trafford 18 months ago as "not enough".

Mourinho paid 93 million pounds to sign France midfielder Paul Pogba, while also recruiting 30-million pound defender Eric Bailly, and midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan for 26.3 million pounds.

This year, United spent 75 million pounds on striker Romelu Lukaku, as well as 31 million pounds on defender Victor Lindelof and 40 million pounds for midfielder Nemanja Matic.

In comparison, City bought three defenders — Kyle Walker from Tottenham Hotspur for an initial 45 million pounds, Benjamin Mendy from Monaco for 52 million pounds and Danilo from Real Madrid for 26.5 million pounds as part of a summer outlay that topped 200 million pounds.

When asked about the comments made by the Portuguese, Guardiola said: "I'm so delighted to be here to speak about what happened on the pitch.

"About what happened with my colleague speaking off the pitch in the press conference, I'm not the right guy. You want to talk about what happened today on the pitch, I will answer."

City remains on course to win the title in record time after equalling Chelsea's English top-flight record of 11 consecutive away wins.

Mourinho's gripe about City's spending power met little sympathy in north London with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saying he had learned to deal with his club's inability to compete with the financial elite for more than two decades.

"I have been in that position for 21 years so I will not start to complain now. There is always one team, sometimes four, who were richer than I was, so I learnt to cope with that and to deal with that," Wenger told the British media.

"What is most important is you deal with your own situation as well as you can and, yes, Manchester City are richer than us, Chelsea are richer than us and Manchester United are richer than us, but I believe we have to find a way to be successful."

Arsenal broke its transfer record in the close season when it signed French striker Alexandre Lacazette for a reported fee of 46.5 million pounds.

The French manager also brought in striker Alexis Sanchez for 35 million pounds in 2014 and midfielder Mesut Ozil for 42 million pounds in 2013.

Despite those big-name signings, Wenger has faced criticism from Arsenal fans for his transfer policy but he stressed the need for managers to get the most out of their resources.

"Your job is to take the best out of your team, the potential of your team, and nobody can really measure that. You have to be objective enough to analyze that, and to do as well as you can."

Arsenal, which last won the league in 2004, is sixth in the table on 34 points from 19 games and was taking on Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park on Thursday.

Special Reports
Top