MANCHESTER – Pep Guardiola has moved to placate Mauricio Pochettino after the Manchester City manager was accused of disrespect by his Tottenham Hotspur counterpart.
Pochettino is annoyed that Guardiola recently described Spurs as “the Harry Kane team” after citing Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United as City’s main rivals for the Premier League title.
England striker Kane has scored 11 of Tottenham’s 21 goals in all competitions this season, with nine goals in his last five matches for club and country.
That blistering run has seen Kane score seven goals in his last three games for Spurs.
He also scored two winning goals as England completed a successful World Cup qualifying campaign with successive 1-0 victories over Slovenia and Lithuania this month.
Pochettino has bristled at the suggestion that Spurs are a one-man team, calling Guardiola’s comments disrespectful, but the Spaniard now says it was never his intention to belittle them.
“I was never disrespectful to my colleague. I was never disrespectful in a press conference. Never,” Guardiola said.
“When I talked about Harry Kane’s team, it was because Harry Kane was scoring a lot of goals.
“And I know perfectly that Tottenham are not Harry Kane alone.”
Guardiola, whose side are top of the Premier League ahead of Saturday’s game against Stoke City, said he has always been quick to give credit to Tottenham, who finished second last season, one place above City.
“I think last season, the person who spoke most about appreciating the way Tottenham play was me,” Guardiola said.
“When they lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final last season, I said it was incredible, because Chelsea had four shots on target and scored four goals.
“As I said, Tottenham are one of the best teams playing. So, I’m really disappointed if he said that.
“I don’t know what he said, but I was never disrespectful about my colleagues.
“I respect a lot what Tottenham have done in the last two or three years. There is a lot of credit in the way they play, in the way they want to show their football in the Premier League, the way they are always attacking.”
Guardiola thought he had a good relationship with the Tottenham manager, who he believes must have misunderstood his comments.
“Maybe I should say Pochettino’s team when I said Harry Kane’s team,” Guardiola said.
“But I said it because he scored two goals more against Huddersfield and a goal for the national team, and another goal for the national team.
“I think Mauricio has made a mistake. Never in my career have I not been respectful.
“Maybe I can answer something where I attack my team or my club, but never would I be disrespectful about Mauricio or Tottenham.”
Guardiola, meanwhile, is hopeful that City midfielder David Silva will agree a new contract soon.
Silva, who has scored 51 times in 315 games for City since arriving from Valencia in 2010, has just under two years left on his current contract.
He is expected to sign an extension through to 2020, with director of football Txiki Begiristain leading the negotiations.
“It’s about Txiki, but I think we’d like him to stay,” he said.