Pep Guardiola praised the “awesome” Manchester City support as the Blues fought out a tense, dramatic 0-0 draw with Southampton.
The manager drew criticism from official supporters’ club general secretary Kevin Parker in the week, when he appeared to suggest he wanted to see more fans at the Etihad Stadium following a 38,000 crowd for the Champions League win over Leipzig in midweek.
Parker suggested on Thursday he should be more understanding of the problems facing supporters in the current climate and suggested he should “stick to coaching” which had brought an angry response, with Guardiola replying yesterday that his words had been misrepresented.
But with over 52,000 in the ground, which was almost at capacity apart from the away end, the support backed Guardiola with a rousing song, and were loud and positive throughout a tough encounter.
Guardiola initially reacted after the game with dismay at further questions about his relationship with the fans, reiterating that he was not criticising their numbers in midweek.
“I said we played an incredibly tough game against Leipzig, it will be incredibly tough against Southampton, and I need the support of our fans.
“I never complain about how many come or don’t come. I’ve never done this in my life, so I don’t know why people ask me these questions. I’d be happy if 100 people came.”
He said he appreciated the fans singing his name before kick-off, and expressed some disappointment that his team did not reward a big turnout and show of support.
“What they have to do is try to play every time better for the people that come here to stay with the team that they love and do our game and make them enjoy and happy for the way we played. That’s all,” he said.
“When the game is not good I feel bad for them. At the end they come to see a show, to see a game, and when it’s happened I’m grateful and when it doesn’t happen I feel a little bit guilty because we didn’t play good.
“Right now until now I don’t understand this theory or this subject asking me what happened because what I said was just guys come together to the next game, it’s the same as I’m going to say now. please come on Tuesday against Wycombe.
“That was what I said, no more than that. If after more or less come it doesn’t matter. “Everyone has their own life and sometimes they can or can’t come, sometimes they want or don’t want to. All we can do is our job what we have done over six years and every time I will ask please to come.
“We were more than one year without them and it was not the same. That’s for sure.
“That’s why. I’m still a little bit shocked for why I’m asked these questions when normally in five years I’m not asked this question.
“But anyway thank you for coming. They were awesome, especially in the last minutes when we pushed more. it is difficult to ask them when we lost simple balls and we were not clever today and a little bit sloppy.”