Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola was careful not to label Manchester United counterpart Jose Mourinho a bad loser as the fallout from Sunday's Manchester derby dominated the build-up to the Premier League's midweek fixtures.
Goals from David Silva and Nicolas Otamendi gave City a 2-1 win over their neighbours, opening up a 11-point gap at the top of the table.
A 14th consecutive win within the same Premier League season meant Guardiola's men set a new competition record, but an alleged incident that took place outside the away dressing room after full-time has since commanded much of the attention.
According to multiple reports, Mourinho confronted City's players after perceiving their noisy celebrations to be disrespectful, prompting a melee featuring members of both teams.
Speaking ahead of Wednesday's trip to struggling Swansea City, Guardiola would not be drawn on the conduct of a man with whom he famously clashed when they were in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid.
With their Manchester detente seemingly at an end, Guardiola was asked whether he thought Mourinho was a bad loser and quickly replied: "I didn't say that. Why don’t you go to Old Trafford and ask him about that?
"Always, I said I would not say one comment about what they did. I will say what we did after game and the players know exactly.
"What the others did, I'm sorry guys, I am not the guy to answer."
9 – Jose Mourinho has lost more matches in all competitions against Pep Guardiola than versus any other manager. Foe. pic.twitter.com/jMleQQnIL6— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 10, 2017
Both clubs have been asked by the Football Association for their observations on an incident not seen by referee Michael Oliver and, therefore, not featured in his report on the match.
Although he would not address any individual at United, neither Mourinho or any member of his playing staff, Guardiola did apologise to the club as a whole if any offence was caused.
"Our intention was not that [to upset United]. Our intention was to celebrate inside the locker room our happiness, because we were happy," he said.
"If people can't understand that then I am sorry. We were so happy, we won a derby and wanted to celebrate in the locker room.
"If in that we offend Man United – not just one player, not Jose, not the players – Man United, I apologise.
"Sometimes Manchester United in the past made a lot of celebrations at Manchester City. It's part of everything. Sometimes the managers celebrate and we exceed a little bit.
"But I think in this case – on the pitch and after the game – it didn't happen. We went to the locker room and tried to celebrate in there because I encourage my players to do that. We have to enjoy that moment.
"If we lose, we have to be sad. We have to be angry so it doesn't happen again in the next game. That is all we live and that explains what happened."
When it's another double-matchday week! pic.twitter.com/3xjHbQzu1C— Manchester City (@ManCity) December 12, 2017
Mourinho was reluctant to discuss any aspect of Sunday's post-match events, cryptically referring to "a question of diversity; diversity in behaviours, diversity in education" between the two camps. Before the game he accused City's players of diving and persistent tactical fouling.
But, far from seeing any element of City's collective spirit as unbecoming, Guardiola feels it is as much a cause of their incredible run than any tactical masterplan he crafts.
"It is impossible to achieve 14 games in a row just playing football, just with tactics. Forget it," he added.
"How we watch the Champions League draw all together, how we celebrate after the games – not just the players who play, but how involved the players who don't play are – that is the basis to create something in the club.
"If both [tactics and spirit] can be together you are a stronger team and on the field you keep fighting."
21. Januar 2018
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