Football News

Pep Guardiola hits back at Manchester United duo: ‘I didn’t see personality when Barcelona destroyed them’

By Ben Green

Published: 15:13, 13 May 2022

Pep Guardiola has responded to criticism levelled at Manchester City by Patrice Evra and Dimitar Berbatov by pointing out how his former club Barcelona “destroyed” Manchester United in the 2011 Champions League final.

Both former Man United players have shared their thoughts on City’s late semi-final collapse against Real Madrid.

Evra was particularly scathing in his assessment, believing the City head coach has a dictatorial persona that doesn’t allow for “leaders” in the dressing room, as he is the dominant force behind the scenes.

“Manchester City needs leaders, but Guardiola doesn’t want leaders,” Evra claimed. “He doesn’t want personality. He’s the leader. That’s why when they’re in trouble they don’t want to. They don’t have anyone on the pitch to help them.”

Meanwhile, Berbatov wrote for Betfair: “If a small team, who don’t have that much talent and class concede two goals at the end of the game, we’ll say it’s because they are a small team with a small mindset and with no winning mentality.”

However, the former United striker did go on to add: “With it happening to a team like Man City, I don’t even know how to find the right words to explain how this team of all teams, with so many winners, can let in two goals after the 90 minutes in a Champions League semi-final […] They had to be more concentrated and focused, they should know how to hold that result. I don’t think it’s a mentality issue for City, it’s unexplainable.”

Guardiola has now leapt to the defence of his players and the club he has managed with distinction since pitching up in 2016, saying both Evra and Berbatov failed to demonstrate the characteristics City are accused of lacking when his Barcelona “destroyed” them in the Champions League final in 2011.

“The answer is so easy, it’s the same character and personality that we lost in Madrid in the last few minutes, the same ones,” said Guardiola.

“Like the specialist former players like Berbatov, Seedorf and Patrice Evra, these type of people that they were there.

“When I play against them I didn’t see this kind of personality when we [Barcelona] destroyed them in the Champions League final against United. It’s the same character and personality.

“You cannot have personality because we concede two goals in one minute [but] when we had two chances to score and we don’t have personality. After the last four games we score 23 goals we have incredible personality.”

He continued: “I’m sorry but I completely disagree about this. Personality is what we have done in the last five years, every three days. Maybe Liverpool win all four titles, maybe they win just one, but you say they don’t have personality, character, they didn’t do an incredible season? Even when they lost the Premier League by one or two points against us, they had a bad season? They don’t have character? Of course they do.

“Sometimes football happens. You cannot control it, emotion, many things. When we are constantly arriving in latter stages, semi-finals, finals last 4-5 years. This is incredible, because we arrive until the end, a lot of games, go through, this is the most important.”

Barcelona triumphed against Man Utd 3-1 at Wembley in the 2011 Champions League final. Evra started and played the full 90 minutes as Lionel Messi stole the show against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Berbatov meanwhile was not selected in the squad for the capital clash.