Mauricio Pochettino has branded Pep Guardiola “sad” and “disrespectful” for describing Tottenham as ‘the Harry Kane team’ but the Manchester City boss insists his comment was misinterpreted.
Pochettino also pointed out he never called Guardiola’s Barcelona side ‘the Lionel Messi team’ and said his Spurs players laughed when they heard the Spaniard’s remark.
Kane has scored 11 goals in his last six appearances for Tottenham, and Guardiola, speaking a fortnight ago after City had just beaten Chelsea, said: “We saw again the Harry Kane team scores every day two or three goals.”
On Friday, Pochettino responded: “That didn’t affect me but the reality is it was very disrespectful for many people. It’s difficult to understand because he was part of the big success at Barcelona with Messi at his best, and I never said it was ‘the Messi team’. I always said it was Barcelona or Pep Guardiola.
“I think everyone deserves to be recognised as part of the success of the team. But I think many people took those words as very disrespectful for the club, and for many players that are here I think it’s a strange situation.”
Tottenham, who host Bournemouth on Saturday, trail City by five points in the Premier League table and Pochettino said his players would not be affected.
“When it’s exciting after an amazing victory against Chelsea, sometimes [he] can struggle to keep his position and be a gentleman,” Pochettino said. “I think it’s a sad comment because the players laugh about that. If you’re a manager you must show more, no? To be above this type of comment.
“That is my opinion like I respect his opinion but I think the players, more motivated or less motivated? I think it’s the same. It’s sad and it’s not right in football. Today we want to show respect, fair play and everything.”
Asked if he had spoken to Guardiola personally since, Pochettino said: “No, of course not. He hasn’t called me yet. Maybe after the press conference he calls me. I’m sure I will reply.”
Guardiola, however, speaking later on Friday, claimed Pochettino had taken his words the wrong way.
“I think Mauricio has made a mistake. Never in my career have I not been respectful,” Guardiola said. “I think about this from the times we’ve met each other and the times I spoke with him. Maybe my memory is not so well but I was never disrespectful to my colleague. I was never disrespectful in a press conference, never.
“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.
“So I think last season, the person who spoke most about appreciating the way Tottenham play was me. When they lost to Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, 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.”