Pep Guardiola has said he would welcome a swift conclusion to Uefa’s Financial Fair Play enquiry into Manchester City, so that “people can stop talking about it”. City face the threat of expulsion from next season’s Champions League if allegations raised by Football Leaks and Der Spiegel are upheld by an independent Uefa investigation, but Guardiola denied the affair had been a distraction to his team, and called for an end to the “voices” that have questioned City’s integrity in recent months.
The controversy resurfaced earlier this week when Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin promised at the Uefa executive committee meeting in Dublin that investigators had a “concrete case” and that their findings would be made available “very soon”. City face severe financial and sporting sanctions if they are found to have used sponsorship deals to circumvent FFP rules on how much money owners can inject into a club.
But speaking after City’s 2-1 win over Watford at Vicarage Road, putting them five points clear at the top of the Premier League, Guardiola seemed unperturbed by the latest developments. “Well, Uefa is doing what it is doing,” he said. “And if it finds something, the club will make a statement, and I would like that, because we know we are going to finish with these voices.
Manchester City stretched their lead at the top of the Premier League to 5 points (Getty)
“If we did something irregular, we will know it. If we didn’t do something irregular, the people can stop talking about it. I trust a lot in my club, in our organisation. If something is wrong, they’re going to tell us.”
When asked whether his squad had found it to ignore the case and concentrate on their football, Guardiola answered: “Of course. Too easy.”
Guardiola’s bullish mood was easily explained. After cruising into a 2-0 lead, his team ended the game hanging on, after Abdoulaye Doucoure’s late goal set up an unexpectedly thrilling finish. “At 0-2, we lost a little bit our control, and we suffered,” Guardiola explained. “But three-quarters of this game was very good. We played 65-70 minutes at a top top level, so aggressive.”
After 15 games, City are averaging more points per game than last season, when they became the first team in English top-flight history to score 100 points. But Guardiola said it was City’s performances he was most pleased with. “The best message is the way we played,” he said. “When I see opponents, what scares me the most is when they play good. Not the results.
“When opponents see us after 60-65 minutes, they can say: OK, Manchester City are still there. When they see the last 10-15 minutes, they say: well, we can beat this team. But 15 games, 13 victories, two draws, one at Anfield: no complaining. We are qualified for the Champions League last 16. So I don’t have many, many regrets.”