Pep Guardiola has questioned whether his Manchester City side are able to compete with the likes of Liverpool, Barcelona and Real Madrid.

The reigning Premier League champions fell 14 points behind leaders Liverpool on Saturday after suffering a 2-1 home defeat to rivals Manchester United.

City's defence was torn to shreds in the opening 30 minutes by United's attack, with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial putting Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side 2-0 up.

Nicolas Otamendi set up a grandstand finish with a late header, but City were unable to salvage anything from the game.

Despite dominating English football for the past two seasons and boasting an exceptional, expensive squad, Guardiola has suggested his side might be unable to go toe-to-toe with Europe's biggest clubs.

"This is the level we are facing, against Liverpool, [Manchester] United, Barcelona, [Real] Madrid and Juventus," he told reporters. "They are the teams we have to face, and the reality is maybe we're not able to compete with them.

"Okay, so we have to improve and accept it and move forward. I could come here and complain about many things; I have reasons to complain.

"Maybe we need as a club to accept the reality we have right now and improve."

Despite the points advantage Jurgen Klopp's side hold over City, Guardiola says he has no intention of throwing in the towel in his pursuit of a third Premier League title.

"The reality is we're 14 points behind because of the mistakes, the quality of the opponents and especially for the things we cannot control. That's the reality," he added.

"But we have to continue. We are at the beginning of December. We have other competitions to play, other games to fight and improve on that. Maybe it will help us for the future of the club; maybe we need that for the future to be better."

After being selected at left-back for the 4-1 win over Burnley on Tuesday, Angelino once again lined up in defence for the Manchester derby.

Guardiola says the Spaniard feels like a better fit for the position at present, suggesting Benjamin Mendy still needs more time to fully recover from two years of injury problems.

"In this moment Angelino feels better and plays better than the other one in that position," he explained.

Asked what Mendy needs, Guardiola said: "Time. After two years injured, it's not 'tac tac' [clicks fingers], where one week you're fit, and you play. You need time."

Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari fears the issue of racism "is definitely getting worse" in Britain following an incident at Saturday's Manchester derby, which has led to an arrest.

On Sunday, Greater Manchester Police confirmed a 41-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order and remains in custody over an incident at the Etihad Stadium.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed two of his Manchester United players were targeted in their 2-1 win over City, when television footage appeared to show a supporter making a racist gesture in the direction of Brazil international Fred and his team-mate Jesse Lingard.

The incident came almost a year to the day since City striker Raheem Sterling was subjected to "racially abusive language" by a Chelsea supporter, who was later banned for life.

A League Two game between Forest Green Rovers and Scunthorpe United was also temporarily halted on Saturday following a report of alleged racist abuse, and Bhandari is concerned by the growing number of incidents across the game in Britain.

"I think the problem is definitely getting worse here and it has been over the last three years," he told Sky Sports News.

"We're nowhere near where we were 30, 40 years ago but there's definitely been an upward spike over the last two, three years.

"But by the same token it doesn't help us if we create these false oppositions; we're not [like] Bulgaria."

In October, UEFA ordered Bulgaria to play a competitive home game behind closed doors after their Euro 2020 qualifier against England was halted twice due to racist chanting from the stands.

"We should not be complacent, we should focus on what's happening in our own country," Bhandari added.

"There has definitely been a rise over the last two or three years and we need to get a handle on that and collaborate much more effectively across football to really try and stamp this out."

City promised any individual found guilty of making racial gestures would be banned for life.

The Premier League also issued its own statement on Sunday saying it would support any action taken by their 20 clubs.

"The Premier League and our clubs will not tolerate discrimination in any form," the statement read.

"If people are found to have racially abused Premier League players they deserve to be punished and we will support any action taken by the authorities and the clubs.

"We appreciate the millions of supporters who help create a positive Premier League matchday atmosphere and have made it clear that racist conduct or language is unacceptable."

Kick It Out chairman Sanjay Bhandari fears the issue of racism "is definitely getting worse" in Britain following an incident at Saturday's Manchester derby, which has led to an arrest.

On Sunday, Greater Manchester Police confirmed a 41-year-old man had been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order and remains in custody over an incident at the Etihad Stadium.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer claimed two of his Manchester United players were targeted in their 2-1 win over City, when television footage appeared to show a supporter making a racist gesture in the direction of Brazil international Fred and his team-mate Jesse Lingard.

The incident came almost a year to the day since City striker Raheem Sterling was subjected to "racially abusive language" by a Chelsea supporter, who was later banned for life.

A League Two game between Forest Green Rovers and Scunthorpe United was also temporarily halted on Saturday following a report of alleged racist abuse, and Bhandari is concerned by the growing number of incidents across the game in Britain.

"I think the problem is definitely getting worse here and it has been over the last three years," he told Sky Sports News.

"We're nowhere near where we were 30, 40 years ago but there's definitely been an upward spike over the last two, three years.

"But by the same token it doesn't help us if we create these false oppositions; we're not [like] Bulgaria."

In October, UEFA ordered Bulgaria to play a competitive home game behind closed doors after their Euro 2020 qualifier against England was halted twice due to racist chanting from the stands.

"We should not be complacent, we should focus on what's happening in our own country," Bhandari added.

"There has definitely been a rise over the last two or three years and we need to get a handle on that and collaborate much more effectively across football to really try and stamp this out."

City promised any individual found guilty of making racial gestures would be banned for life.

The Premier League also issued its own statement on Sunday saying it would support any action taken by their 20 clubs.

"The Premier League and our clubs will not tolerate discrimination in any form," the statement read.

"If people are found to have racially abused Premier League players they deserve to be punished and we will support any action taken by the authorities and the clubs.

"We appreciate the millions of supporters who help create a positive Premier League matchday atmosphere and have made it clear that racist conduct or language is unacceptable."

A man has been arrested on suspicion of a "racially aggravated public order" during Saturday's clash between Manchester City and Manchester United, Greater Manchester Police have confirmed.

During the second half of United's 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium, the visitors' midfielder Fred appeared to be hit by an object thrown from the crowd as he prepared to take a corner.

Lighters and a plastic bottle could be seen by the corner flag, while television footage seemed to show a supporter making racist gestures in the direction of Brazil international Fred and his team-mate Jesse Lingard.

Shortly after full-time, City released a statement saying they were investigating and threatened to issue life bans to any individual found to have committed racial abuse.

In a statement, Greater Manchester Police said: "A man has been arrested after a video posted on social media showed a supporter making racist gestures at the Manchester City v Manchester United match at the Etihad Stadium yesterday.

"At around 6.55pm on Saturday 7 December 2019 police were called to a report of a supporter making alleged racist gestures and sounds towards players during the Manchester City and Manchester United derby.

"A 41-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of a racially aggravated public order and remains in custody for questioning."

Superintendent Chris Hill of the City of Manchester Division added: "I would like to thank the public for their ongoing support with this incident.

"Racism of any kind has no place in football or our society and I hope this arrest shows that we are taking this matter extremely seriously.

"We will continue to work with Manchester City and Manchester United football clubs on this incident and will investigate any other lines of enquiries."
 

A man has been arrested on suspicion of a "racially aggravated public order" during Saturday's clash between Manchester City and Manchester United, Greater Manchester Police have confirmed.

Fred hit out at the "backward society" we live in after the Manchester United midfielder was allegedly racially abused and struck by a lighter in his team's 2-1 derby win over Manchester City.

A City supporter appeared to make racial gestures in the direction of Fred and team-mate Jesse Lingard in Saturday's Premier League showdown at the Etihad Stadium.

The incident happened when Fred went to take a corner in the second half, with a series of objects also being hurled towards the Brazil international.

City released a statement to say they are working closely with Greater Manchester Police and have vowed to ban for life any supporter found guilty of racism.

Former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred confirmed he was hit by one missile and is eager for the matter to be dealt with but does not want to give attention to the perpetrators.

"Unfortunately we are still in a backward society," he told ESPN Brazil. "[It's a shame] we still have to live with that in 2019. 

"On the field I didn't see anything; I only saw it in the locker room afterwards.

"The guys showed me. [Someone] even threw a lighter and it hit me. I try not to care about that. I try to look ahead.

"Unfortunately, this is happening in some stadiums. It happened here, it happened in Ukraine with some friends. It's sad, but we have to keep our heads up and forget about that.

"We can't give them any attention because that's all they want. I spoke to the referee after the match, they will do something about it and that's all.

"We are all the same regardless of skin colour, hair and gender. We came from the same place and we all go to the same place when it's all said and done."

Fred was hailed by United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his star performance against City, and the 26-year-old is grateful for the support he has received.

"Thank God I have a lot of friends here in the locker room who hugged me, like Lingard," he added.

"I don't want to think about [what happened]. I just want to move on."

Pep Guardiola conceded Manchester City could not live with the pace of Manchester United's attacking players in Saturday's 2-1 derby defeat.

Visitors United constantly exposed their opponents on the counter at the Etihad Stadium, helping them move into a two-goal lead inside the opening half-hour.

Marcus Rashford won and then converted a penalty before Anthony Martial fired in a second after being picked out by Daniel James.

Guardiola talked up United's counter-attacking threat on the eve of the match, but the City head coach has admitted his side ultimately had no answer to the trio.

"I like how my team played," he said at his post-match news conference. "We conceded a little bit more space - not more than usual, but more than last year against United.

"We knew about the pace they have, with James, Martial and Rashford, but sometimes it is not possible to control it."

Nicolas Otamendi pulled a goal back for City five minutes from the end, but there was to be no comeback for the reigning champions as their title hopes were dealt another blow.

"In general, we did what we like," Guardiola added. "We arrived in the final third many, many, many, many times. 

"Unfortunately, we couldn't finish a little bit more, but I like to watch my team. I know nobody agrees but I like it."

Third-place City are now 14 points adrift of leaders Liverpool, who beat Bournemouth 3-0 earlier on Saturday, and travel to Arsenal for their next league outing.

The home loss means Guardiola has the lowest points tally after 16 games of a season in his senior coaching career, but he is not surprised by the drop-off in form since last term.

"Sometimes it happens," he added. "Sometimes you don't win and the others are better and you lose. Normal is not winning the league always, sometimes you lose.

"It is important not to give up and try to do what we do as a team. All the games we play a season we play the game I want my team to play. 

"After that, the counter-attacks, the final third, when we struggle in some departments okay, it's part of the process. Maybe next season we will be better."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hailed Fred's star performance after Manchester United won 2-1 away to rivals Manchester City in the Premier League.

Goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial set up victory at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday, with Nicolas Otamendi's late reply proving only a consolation for the champions.

A fourth league defeat of the season leaves City 14 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, while United are a further eight points back despite securing successive wins.

Fred's form has improved in recent weeks after some strong criticism for much of his United career, and he shone against champions City, who had also reportedly been interested in signing him from Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 26-year-old's display was particularly noteworthy given he was part of an unsavoury incident in the second half, in which he was hit by a missile thrown from the crowd and appeared to be subjected to alleged racist abuse.

"[He was] Arguably man of the match today," Solskjaer told reporters of the Brazil international. 

"He took the ball, he's playing against Kevin De Bruyne, probably the best player in the league and I thought he was excellent.

"It's great to see it; the boy deserves it. But when you get a run and keep the team together, Scott [McTominay] and Fred have made a great partnership."

The game was overshadowed by those second-half scenes when United had won a corner, with Fred hit after several items were thrown to the pitch, while he and team-mate Jesse Lingard appeared to be targeted by abuse.

City and Greater Manchester Police have confirmed they are working together to investigate the incident, while Solskjaer called for a life ban from football grounds for any individual found guilty of such an offence.

Rashford was among the players to speak out over the incident, with United captain Ashley Young also posting on Twitter: "Should never have to post anything like this because I'd have thought it's obvious but racism has no place in football or society.

"Kudos to Man City for the swift statement, I hope the individual is properly dealt with."

The Fred incident will make the headlines, but Solskjaer was keen to highlight United's first-half display and the importance of holding on for a victory.

"I was so happy with the way we started the game," Solskjaer said. "The way we created big chances, we looked like we could score every time we had the ball.

"And the intent was there to go forward, every time we had the ball. It's not about keeping it or slowing it down; we go for the kill and should have been three or four-nil up.

"But then again, you're playing against the best team in the world, so you have to defend well.

"I think the way we had to prepare for this game, because you follow this team for three years, and they're so hard to defend against because they're so good, I'm very pleased with how they dealt with everything, our boys."

Pep Guardiola vowed Manchester City would not surrender in the Premier League title race despite falling 14 points behind leaders Liverpool.

A 2-1 home defeat to neighbours Manchester United leaves City not only adrift of Jurgen Klopp's pace-setters but also three points shy of second-placed Leicester City, who have a game in hand.

City must string together victory after victory and hope for a Liverpool collapse to stand any hope of defending their crown.

Although a City charge to glory is unlikely, manager Guardiola is not giving up hope - but nor does he want to become overly occupied by the situation.

"It's not time to think about [the title race]," Guardiola told Sky Sports.

"We have to think about what we have to do and think about the next game. It doesn't matter if it's six points, eight or 14, we have to continue. We are a fantastic team."

City were swamped by United's attacking waves in the first half-hour at the Etihad Stadium, where a tormented home crowd saw their side concede a Marcus Rashford penalty and a precise Anthony Martial strike.

Rashford missed one good chance and struck the bar, while Jesse Lingard and Martial also could have added to United's early haul.

The visitors were as impressive in that period as City were abject, yet Guardiola stood up for his players, who improved as the game went on.

Nicolas Otamendi headed City back into it with five minutes of regulation time to play, and moments later, Riyad Mahrez drew a fine save from David de Gea.

Former Barcelona coach Guardiola said: "We conceded three or four counter-attacks during the first half. They were clinical.

"I am more than happy with our performance. We pushed them, we created chances. In general, I am happy with the performance. There are regrets.

"I know who we are as a team. I am delighted to work with these guys. We tried and tried in the second half. Unfortunately, we scored late and could not turn the result."

Marcus Rashford believes racism has become a "big negative" in the United Kingdom after Manchester United players appeared to be targets of discriminatory abuse in Saturday's derby, while Gary Neville pointed the finger at politicians for creating such a climate.

United claimed a 2-1 win that left rivals Manchester City's title defence in tatters, but the contest was marred by an incident in the second half.

While waiting to take a corner, several projectiles were thrown from a section of the Etihad Stadium crowd towards Fred, who was hit by one object.

During the same break in play, one fan appeared to make racist gestures towards the midfielder, with United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer later calling for a lifetime ban for anyone found to have abused Fred or Jesse Lingard, who was nearby.

City confirmed they are working with police to investigate the incident and said they will issue life bans to anyone found guilty of racial behaviour.

Rashford – who was targeted with racist social media comments earlier in the season – rued the frequency at which such incidents are occurring in the country.

"We seem to be speaking about it an awful lot over the last six to eight months," Rashford told the BBC. "Even speaking about it now is not nice.

"The necessary departments need to do the right things to stop it in the game. It is a big negative in the sport and the country."

Former United captain Neville, now a television pundit, suggested part of the blame lies with politicians and pointed to comments about immigration in a pre-election debate as a possible way in which discriminatory behaviour is fuelled.

"You're watching the debate last night [Friday] where the prime minister is talking about immigration, people coming into this country and having to have certain levels - it fuels it [racism] all the time," Neville said on Sky Sports.

Manchester City are working with police to investigate allegations of racial abuse after Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said two Manchester United players were targeted in the derby.

During the second half of United's 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium, the visitors' midfielder Fred seemed to be hit by an object thrown from the crowd as he prepared to take a corner.

Lighters and a plastic bottle could be seen by the corner flag while television footage appeared to show a supporter making racist gestures in the direction of Brazil international Fred and his team-mate Jesse Lingard.

Shortly after full-time, City released a statement saying they were investigating and threatened to issue life bans to any individual found to have committed racial abuse.

"Manchester City FC are aware of a video circulating on social media which appears to show a supporter making racial gestures during the second half of the match against Manchester United this evening," their statement read.

"Officials from the club are working with Greater Manchester Police in order to help them identify any individuals concerned and assist with their enquiries.

"The club are also working with GMP regarding an instance of objects being thrown onto the field of play.
 
"The club operates a zero-tolerance policy regarding discrimination of any kind, and anyone found guilty of racial abuse will be banned from the club for life."

Solskjaer confirmed he had seen the incident and he too called for anyone found guilty of such abuse to be banned from grounds for life.

"I've seen it on video, of course," he told Sky Sports.

"Fred and Jesse in the corner taking coins from the City fans, first of all, so they've got to go away. Then there's this not-so-intelligent fella chanting racist abuse towards my two players.

"I hope City and the authorities will deal with it because he shouldn't be watching football again, not live anyway.

"We have to stamp it out. We keep talking about that every single week and it's not acceptable and he should not be allowed back into grounds. That's how simple it is."

Lingard tweeted after the match in response to footage of the alleged incident, saying: "Not even this idiot can ruin tonight's feeling, shameful behaviour, it may be the derby but there is never ever a reason to be racist!"

Anti-racism and discrimination organisation Kick It Out said it had "been inundated with reports of alleged racist abuse from a number of individuals" and called for "swift action" to identify those responsible.

City boss Pep Guardiola added that he supported his club's pledge to take action.

"I think the same as the club," he told Sky Sports.

"I support the club. We are going to work to avoid it happening again."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saw Manchester United produce a terrific derby victory and said that was how he had always envisaged his team playing.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial fired United to a 2-1 win over Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.

Solskjaer told Sky Sports News: "It's a Man United performance in my mould - I love the boys going forward when there's a chance."

It was a display comparable at times to how Alex Ferguson's great sides could pick apart defences at will, but Solskjaer is adamant this is a team of his own design.

After a slow start to the season, his United have come alive over the past week, deservedly beating Jose Mourinho's Tottenham on Wednesday before crossing Manchester to pick off their neighbours.

Their pace in attack left Pep Guardiola's City players standing at times, while Scott McTominay and Fred were impressive in anchoring the midfield.

And Solskjaer was quick to point out their 2-0 lead after half an hour was far from flattering.

He described the display as "fantastic", saying: "At the start of the game, we were exceptional, attacking every time we got the ball. It looked like we could carve them open every time.

"We could have, should have been three, four, five up, really. That's testament to the boys because they played so well.

"We were playing against, for me, the best coach in the world, the best team. It's so hard to play against them, players coming from everywhere, every angle.

"We were brilliant in the first half, especially. First half an hour, excellent. Some great, quick, attacking football.

"It wasn't just the direct ball or long ball. It was on the floor, quick transitions. I'm so pleased for the boys - they deserve it."

Solskjaer, whose job looked to be under threat only a week ago, added: "Of course, there's a time today when we don't keep the ball as well as we could have. But we're away at the best team in the world, for me.

"We're improving all the time. The boys are getting experiences to remember."

As the Christmas season unofficially began on December 1, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer looked anything but merry.

Manchester United had been held to a 2-2 draw at home by promoted Aston Villa and the Red Devils' performance was utterly rancid for much of the game. Solskjaer appeared helpless at full-time.

Ahead of a particularly bleak run of mid-winter fixtures, reports suggested Solskjaer could join Santa in expecting to be burdened with the sack for Christmas. Two games to save his job, some said, with Mauricio Pochettino looming large.

Those two matches; Jose Mourinho's Tottenham and Manchester City in the derby – it wasn't the sleigh bells that were ringing. 

Some might have been content with two points, yet they've managed to take six and left City's title defence in tatters after a 2-1 win over the champions.

Much of the build-up was dominated by 'we're back' talk among both sets of supporters. City had crushed Burnley comprehensively, while United produced arguably their best display under Solskjaer in a 2-1 win over Tottenham.

Saturday's performance left no such room for argument – it was undoubtedly the greatest of his tenure. 

So much of the Norwegian's time at the helm has been mired by worryingly erratic form – one week they barely manage to salvage a draw against Villa, showing a concerning lack of desire, and then follow that up with a genuinely laudable performance at home to a resurgent Spurs.

Such inconsistency has understandably led to questions over Solskjaer's game-management, with United frequently struggling against opposition that sit back despite boasting a solid record of only two defeats in 11 meetings with 'big-six' opponents and Leicester City before the derby.

Solskjaer did little wrong on Saturday, however.

A devastating first half an hour showed just how good this United team can be, particularly going forward.

The fluid front three of Daniel James, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial was electric, while the much-maligned Jesse Lingard showed the kind of technique and drive not seen from him for a long, long time.

United's strengths are by no means a secret – they are blessed with immense pace in attack and are at their best hitting teams on the counter.

City fell into a trap entirely of United's making.

The midfield pair of Scott McTominay and Fred sat extremely deep, while the front four also dropped well back, essentially becoming a second midfield. As such, the gap between United's defence and attack was often minimal, allowing them to break as a unit.

The dynamism and agility of United's attack was plain to see for both goals – firstly Rashford driving into the box and winning the penalty that he converted, before James and Martial linked for the Frenchman's well-worked goal.

But United's effectiveness was about more than just three players running really, really fast. Defensively they had several players who were imperious.

Aaron Wan-Bissaka dealt with Raheem Sterling impressively, making five tackles and seven clearances in a fine display, while McTominay was similarly impressive. The Scotland international won possession back via three tackles, three interceptions and came out on top in 81.3 per cent of the 16 duels he was involved in.

Added to that, Fred enjoyed his best match for United, creating two chances and showing a general awareness that could rarely be associated with the Brazilian previously. On this evidence, you can begin to understand why Pep Guardiola had been so keen to bring him to City.

City's second-half desperation predictably saw United come under pressure and, for a moment it looked like the Red Devils would yet again cave and throw away a lead after Nicolas Otamendi pulled one back.

But it wasn't to be.

While reservations over Solskjaer's suitability for the role will remain as long as his team continue to falter against teams they should beat, there's no doubt in his ability to squeeze every last drop out of his players in the big games.

And in the biggest of matches, United rose to the occasion to leave City 14 points adrift of the summit, their title hopes torn to shreds like so much festive wrapping paper. 

Is Pep Guardiola losing his touch?

Saturday's 2-1 loss at home to bitter rivals Manchester United left the Manchester City manager with his lowest points tally after 16 games of a season.

The defeat at the Etihad Stadium leaves City 14 points off the searing pace set by runaway Premier League leaders Liverpool, who won at Bournemouth earlier in the day.

City, champions in each of the past two seasons, now seem unlikely to make it three in a row and ex-Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola has never collected a lower points tally at this stage of a campaign.

His side have lost four times in 16 league games, leaving them with 32 points on the board.

In further grim news for Guardiola, no team have ever come back from 14 points behind at the end of a matchday to win the English top-flight title. 

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