Pep Guardiola has hit back at Antonio Conte’s claim that the Premier League title will not go to the club that has spent the most money.
Guardiola’s Manchester City take on Manchester United on Thursday night with both sides battling to secure Champions League qualification rather than the Premier League title, which had been predicted when he and Jose Mourinho took charge of their respective clubs last summer.
City and United were the biggest spenders in England before the start of the season but top-of-the-table Chelsea are battling Tottenham for the title.
That prompted Conte to say on Monday: “I think this season it is very important to understand that it is not always about who spends more money who wins. Otherwise, in this league, this season the name of the [top] team would not be Chelsea or Tottenham, or Arsenal or Liverpool. You understand?”
Asked about Conte’s comments, Guardiola pointed to his own success at Barcelona where he used homegrown players and added that Chelsea have spent heavily in the past.
“I played with Barcelona and won the Champions League with eight guys growing from the academy — zero cost to win the Champions League, that’s happened,” the City boss told a news conference. “But all the clubs are going to spend a lot of money and you cannot forget all the players that Chelsea have that cost a lot of money.
“People think that just City spend money but all the clubs around the world, in Spain, Germany, England and Italy, they spend a lot of money.
“This summer it is going to happen again. That’s why we have to adapt to that and why there is a little bit more here. But all around the world there is a lot of money to spend — even Chelsea.”
Victory at the Etihad on Thursday would move City up to third in the table and open up a five-point gap over fifth-placed United in the race for the top four.
But Guardiola is expecting the battle to go to the final day of the season and says the competitiveness of the Premier League means no side can take points for granted.
“It’s going to go until the last game,” he added. “We saw Liverpool lose at home against Crystal Palace. Palace have to come here after winning at Stamford Bridge, Anfield and at home against Arsenal.
“What I’ve learned here is that the difficulty with the top and low teams are quite similar, in the way you face them. It’s not so different. Middlesbrough will be difficult, Palace, West Brom, Watford. Game by game, we’ll try to win the points and ensure Champions League next season.”
Guardiola is hoping the fans can urge his side to victory after a disappointing season at the Etihad which has seen City win just eight of their 15 home games.
It was reported that Guardiola was not happy with the atmosphere in the stadium but he says it has been difficult to watch his team on occasions.
“I’m not a guy who said what they have to do,” he said, when asked about the fans. “I always believe we have to do much better, as good as possible.
“When that happens, when you play good, attacking, scoring goals, the fans are always behind you. But when we are not playing well, not scoring goals and our game is boring, you cannot demand from the supporters.
“They come because they love our club, but they want to see something. The first step for us is to do that.”