Pep Guardiola played down his bitter feud with Jose Mourinho on Friday and insisted he will accept a post-match drink from his opposite number — if he is offered one.
Guardiola’s City visit Mourinho’s United on Saturday in the first Manchester derby since the high-profile pair took charge of their respective clubs in the close season.
The pre-match focus, with both Manchester teams having won their first three Premier League games of the season, has firmly been on the duo and the rivalry that has developed between them since they became two of the most successful managers in the modern game.
Guardiola, however, said he had no problem with Mourinho, with whom he has already spoken since they moved to England, and he will be happy to join him for a traditional post-match drink.
“I will accept if he invites me,” said Guardiola at a news conference. “I have said many times, I have a lot of respect for him.Mourinho and Guardiola Mourinho and Guardiola
“I always try to learn from all my colleagues and I learn from him as well. The rivalry is more in the media.
“He was my coach, my assistant coach with Sir Bobby Robson (when Guardiola was a Barcelona player).
“The last meeting in Madrid-Barcelona was not easy but we met each other two or three weeks ago in the Premier League managers’ (meeting) and we spoke fluently with Ronald Koeman (Everton), with Tony Pulis (West Bromwich Albion) so it was okay.”
Guardiola also has had a chequered relationship with the Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was highly critical of his former Barcelona manager this week.
“I have a lot of respect for Zlatan and what he has done in the football world and his career,” said Guardiola.
“He has had a big impact in what he did everywhere and he is amazing, especially on the pitch. I have a lot of respect for him, what he has done for football.
“He is one of the best players and the best players they have an impact. The big players don’t have to understand the league or need time.”
Guardiola refuted suggestions the timing of the first Manchester derby, so early in the new campaign and immediately after an international break, was a problem.
“With Jose it is the same,” said the City manager. “He needs time in his new club and we need time and the world is not allowed to give you time.
“We are going to try to continue with the things we did good and improve what you have still to improve.
“For the short time, we play good in some moments. We are going to try to figure out what we are going to find tomorrow (Saturday) in Old Trafford with Mourinho’s team.”
Meanwhile, Guardiola has a number of key selection decisions — with Vincent Kompany, Ilkay Gundogan and Leroy Sane returning to fitness and new goalkeeper Claudio Bravo available, despite training just twice with the club since his move from Barcelona.
“Claudio is okay. He had a little bit of a problem in his leg but he trained today (Friday),” Guardiola said.
“He is fit, he is ready. This kind of player, 32, 33-years-old, has experience. It is no problem.
“Sane, in terms of his condition, is the best player in this moment. Gundogan is much better.”
The Spaniard added: “Kompany is training but we are waiting for the doctor to say what his blood test is. We don’t want to take too much risk after what happened in the past.
“We want to make sure that when he comes back he is 100 percent fit.”