Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has refuted claims his club behaved disrespectfully while on a pre-season tour to China.
In an opinion piece published by Chinese state news agency Xinhua, it was claimed that the Premier League champion showed “utter disrespect” to locals, treating the trip as “nothing more than a commercial obligation.”
The report alleges that players refused to interact with fans and that the club allocated lengthier interview time to British, rather than local, media.
City defeated West Ham 4-1 in Nanjing but lost on penalties to Wolves in the final of the Asia Trophy in Shanghai.
“I should say I don’t agree and also that it’s false,” Guardiola told reporters at a press conference in Hong Kong. “To make a statement like this they have to know exactly what happened here in our club.
“We had an incredible time in Shanghai. We were committed to the cooperation you have to do here in China. The people from the hotel, all the people were asking us to do things and we were ready to do that.
“To come to Asia and experience the culture, the restaurants – it’s amazing to get to know other people. That’s why I can’t understand what people are saying. Maybe one journalist is a bit upset, I don’t know why – but it’s far away from the reality.”
He added that the amount of travel – with the club next moving to Tokyo – has caused added fatigue among the squad.
“We don’t sleep too well during the nights but, even so, we make good training sessions for all the guys,” Guardiola continued.
“I’ve been impressed with my players so far and let’s see for the rest of the tour. I completely disagree with the journalist, that’s not the reality.”
After taking on Kitchee FC in Hong Kong on Wednesday and Yokohama F. Marinos in Japan later this week, City returns to the UK to prepare for its Community Shield clash against Liverpool.
The club’s Premier League title defense gets underway against West Ham on August 10.
City has arrived in Hong Kong amidst a series of violent protests, but Guardiola said he and the players “feel safe.”
“As a human being you don’t like to watch it but always as a society you have to accept the protest,” he added. “I am pretty sure the government will be in agreement about no violence and that they are going to solve the problem.”