CAS verdict a good day for football - Guardiola defends City against Klopp, Mourinho barbs

By Sports Desk July 14, 2020

For all that he expressed delight over the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) quashing his club's two-year ban from UEFA competitions, Pep Guardiola looked ready to fight long, hard and persistently to clear Manchester City's name.

Guardiola addressed reporters on Tuesday, ostensibly to preview Wednesday's Premier League match Bournemouth.

The relegation-threatened Cherries, team news or any of the other usual staples were not on the agenda.

A little over 24 hours earlier, CAS found in City's favour, stating UEFA's allegations of Financial Fair Play breaches were either "not established" or "time-barred" under the governing body's own regulations.

Speaking shortly before Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp said the verdict had amounted to "a bad day for football", while Jose Mourinho branded it "a disgraceful decision".

"All I say, for all their opinions, is I tell Jose and Jurgen it was a good day for football. A really good day," said Guardiola, addressing the other halves of his two most enduring touchline rivalries.

"It was clear what happened. And that's nice.

"I have my long history, I have a lot of respect – not just for the manager of Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool but for all the managers I face.

"But I don't expect they are going to defend my club. But I wanted to defend my club, in the good and especially in the bad moments."

By that stage, there could be no doubts over how Guardiola wished to use his latest appointment with the media. It was a relentless and impassioned defence against perceived slights suffered by the Abu Dhabi-owned club.

According to UEFA's most recent Club Licensing Benchmarking Report, City's 2018 net spend of €282million was the highest on record for any club, while their total squad cost of €971m ranked as the most expensive in history.

The 2018-19 domestic treble winners have been a transformed force in English football since their 2008 takeover, winning six of the past eight major English honours on offer, but Guardiola contended heavy spending has always been a factor for the most successful teams in the sport.

"A lot of clubs invest. When [Manchester] United and Arsenal won the leagues in the period before, they invested more money than the other ones," he said.

"When Chelsea started to win Premier Leagues, they invested more money than the other ones.

"I'm a good manager, but I don't win titles if I don't have good players and good players are expensive.

"All the clubs spend a lot of money – Barcelona spend a lot of money, Real Madrid spend a lot of money, the English teams spend a lot of money.

"We built a club in terms of the last decade. To compete with the elite of the Premier League and the Champions League, we needed to invest."

Guardiola also cited the experience of Manchester United being able to put together more substantial financial packages to secure Alexis Sanchez and Harry Maguire at City's expense as evidence his club's means are not limitless.

"We have a lot of money but we wanted Alexis Sanchez. We could not afford him. We wanted Harry Maguire but we could not afford him. We could not pay like United paid," he added.

"We have money but the other clubs have money too. Did we spend more in the last decade than in the past? Yes.

"But 25, 30 years ago, Arsene Wenger – the guy who defends perfectly Financial Fair Play, so, Arsene, you know Manchester City were correct in what we have done – spent a lot of money to be there.

"United with Sir Alex Ferguson spent a lot of money to be there. All the clubs, if you want to be on top. If you don't, it's more difficult."

Aside from arguing for his own achievements in Manchester to be given a fair hearing – "what we won here, guys, was on the pitch" – Guardiola also seemed to be motivated by a genuine affection for the club he joined from Bayern Munich in 2016.

"I love this club. I love it because I know the people here have been working for a long time," he added.

"We have our history. I don't know if it is better or worse – it doesn't matter. It's our history, I love it.

"Manchester City don't have to apologise because the three independent judges decided we have done everything properly.

"It is clear. More than clear is impossible."

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