Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has hit back at Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho over the “Milkgate” fracas that followed Sunday’s stormy derby between the Premier League title rivals.
Both teams could yet face punishment from the Football Association for a melee that broke out in the Old Trafford tunnel and left City coach Mikel Arteta with a head wound after the visitors’ 2-1 win.
Mourinho is thought to have entered City’s dressing room to complain about what he saw as disrespectful post-match celebrations, but Guardiola insisted on Tuesday that his team had behaved entirely reasonably.
“I am the guy that encouraged them to celebrate it in that moment but between each other, because football is like this, and it’s what we did,” said Guardiola.
“When you lose you have to accept defeat, and when we win to try and celebrate. I don’t know if we are going to win or not win titles this season, so we cannot wait for the right moment.”
Asked if City’s players had celebrated too much, he said: “Definitely not. It was the same as after the Southampton game [which City won with a late goal last month]. We were happy because we won a derby.”
Guardiola refused to divulge exactly what had happened in the altercation – dubbed “Milkgate” because milk is said to have been thrown – that left Arteta bloodied. He added: “I’m not going to say what happened. The investigation will hear our opinions about that.”
Mourinho declined to discuss the latest episode in his long-running feud with Guardiola beyond a suggestion that the warring coaches had different standards.
“For me it was just a question of diversity,” said the United manager. “Diversity in behaviours and diversity in education. Just that and nothing more than that.”
Victory at United was City’s 14th consecutive Premier League win – a new record for the English top flight. It also saw them extend their lead over their neighbours at the top of the table to 11 points.
United will hope to cut the gap on Wednesday – they host Bournemouth while City travel to Swansea – and Mourinho has been quick to underline that, despite trailing City, his team have improved.
“The number of points that we have, last season we had eight less in this moment,” he said. “Last season we drew at home against Bournemouth. Now let’s try to do better than we did last season.”