Pep Guardiola responds to Zlatan Ibrahimovic's criticism ahead of Manchester derby

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This weekend’s Manchester derby promises to be one of the finest in recent years.

With both City and United having spent big this summer and brought in two of the greatest managers of the modern era, it has all the makings of a classic. It’ll prove the perfect curtain raiser after a brief spell away with international fixtures.

Adding extra spice will prove the number of individual clashes the game will force, most notably between Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola. However, the latter has also caused a stir in responding to criticism from a certain Zlatan Ibrahimovic.


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Frosty relationship

Guardiola’s capture of Ibrahimovic in 2009 appeared a great signing and a suitable replacement for Samuel Eto’o. However, the Swede’s tenure at Barcelona swiftly spiraled downwards.

Before long the 34-year-old was regularly benched and embroiled in public arguments with his manager. This was all despite the fact Ibrahimovic mustered an impressive tally of 21 goals in 45 outings.

Eventually being shipped to AC Milan after just a year, the Manchester United man hit back at Guardiola in his 2013 autobiography I Am Zlatan.

Not only did Ibrahimovic state that he was treated like “a disturbance, an alien”, but he went as far as labeling the 45-year-old a “spineless coward.”

The Swedish striker went onto state: “As a coach he was fantastic, as a person I’ve no comments about that, that’s something else. He’s not a man, there’s nothing more to say.”

Guardiola response

However, after three years and with the Manchester derby on the horizon, Guardiola has finally responded to this merciless criticism.

The ex-Barcelona boss explained: “Ibrahimovic used his book to explain what he believes, he had some things to say.

“Always I was clear. Whatever I said to him I spoke face to face. I never used the media to explain what I wanted from him on the pitch.”

Simply put, the Spaniard is showing his frustration at Ibrahimovic using his book to criticise as opposed to doing so to his face. That being said, knowing Zlatan, he may just get the chance this weekend.

Either way, the crossfire of criticism adds an extra layer and subplot to what already looks to be a classic Premier League fixture. Who will get the last laugh is yet to be seen, but whoever does, they’ll certainly have to fight hard for it.

Who do you think will win this week's Manchester derby? Have YOUR say in the comment box below

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Paul Pogba
Manchester United
Zlatan Ibrahimovic
Paris Saint-Germain
UEFA Champions League
Premier League
Manchester City

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