“I cannot remember Sir Alex Ferguson telling me to join Manchester United” – Pep Guardiola debunks claim he rejected United

Pep Guardiola says he cannot remember Sir Alex Ferguson talking to him about the Manchester United manger’s job, but adds it would not have made a difference about taking over at Manchester City.

Guardiola will be in the City dressing room for the Manchester derby on Sunday, aiming to extend their lead over United to 11 points at the top of the Premier League table with a win at Old Trafford.

Former United boss Ferguson wrote in his book “Leading” that in 2012 he had spoken to Guardiola in New York about the possibility of succeeding him at Old Trafford, but the City boss says his English was not very good at the time and he has no recollection of it.

“I know he has said that but I don’t remember,” Guardiola told a news conference. “We spoke about life, about football of course, about the Premier League, but he never sent me a message under the table to say, ‘you know, maybe United’ or something like that.

“I remember, he spoke really fast, it was difficult to understand. It was nice because he chose an amazing restaurant and of course he paid!”

Guardiola was on a sabbatical at the time, having left Barcelona for a year out. He went on to manage Bayern Munich to three Bundesliga titles before moving to City in the summer of 2016.

He added that he had no doubts about switching to the Etihad Stadium once director of football Txiki Begiristain and chairman Khaldoon Al Mubarak had made clear how much they wanted him.

“After that [it was] Manchester City. I said if I go to the Premier League I will go to them because I know Txiki and I met Khaldoon in the last period in Munich and they show more interest than anyone else and that was so important to me,” Guardiola said.

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“[They said] I want you not just for the hypothetical titles you are going to win, or what you won in the past, but I want you, and that is why I accepted to come and I don’t have any regrets.”

While Guardiola ended up at City, his old Real Madrid adversary Jose Mourinho took over at United in the same summer.

The pair have had a reasonably amicable relationship in England so far compared to their old La Liga rivalry, but Mourinho aimed a jibe at the City boss ahead of Sunday’s derby.

He claimed City players dive and questioned why Guardiola has not been charged for wearing a yellow ribbon to symbolise support for politicians Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez, who have been jailed amid the row over Catalan independence.

Guardiola has tried to play down the rivalry and insists he takes no extra pleasure from beating Mourinho’s teams.

“My opinion about what he has done as a manager will never change. I know the way we see the game is different but we love to compete, we love to win games,” he said.

“But, believe me, it is not a special situation when I beat somebody’s teams at all. I want to win but when I lose I accept the defeat and I try to learn from that for the next one. Then we move on.

“I respect a lot of my colleagues, Jose as well. We want to beat each other but what happens on the pitch happens on the pitch. After that it is over.”

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