Yaya Touré accuses Pep Guardiola of ‘having problems with Africans’

• Former Manchester City player launches attack on manager
• Ivorian tells France Football he wants to ‘break Guardiola myth’

Yaya Touré has launched a broadside at Pep Guardiola, accusing him of “having problems with Africans wherever he goes”, claiming the Manchester City manager’s coaching reputation is “a myth” and that he did “everything to spoil” the Ivory Coast midfielder’s last season at the club.

In an interview with France Football magazine, Touré – who left City in May after eight seasons at the club – attacked his former manager who was also his coach at Barcelona.

“He [Guardiola] insists he has no problems with black players, because he is too intelligent to be caught out,” Touré said in an interview with France Football to be published on Tuesday. “But when you realise that he has problems with Africans, wherever he goes, I ask myself questions. He will never admit it. But the day he will line up a team in which we find five Africans, not naturalised, I promise I will send him a cake.”

City and Guardiola have refused to comment but it is understood that the club are disappointed by the player’s remarks.

Touré, now aged 35, became increasingly marginalised as City claimed the Premier League title last season. It was not the first time he had found himself surplus to requirements under Guardiola, having left his Barcelona side in 2010 to move to the Premier League.

Guardiola has shown a clinical streak throughout his managerial career, dispensing with the former England goalkeeper Joe Hart immediately after his arrival in 2016, for example. Guardiola was the League Managers’ Association manager of the year after City amassed Premier League records of 100 points and 106 goals.

Touré won three league titles with City, including last season, but had to wait until the final home match against Brighton last month for his first Premier League start of the season. In total he played 228 minutes in the league and was left out of the Carabao Cup final victory against Arsenal despite having played in four of the previous ties in the competition.

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“Pep likes to dominate and wants to have obedient players who lick his hands,” said Touré. “I do not like this kind of relationship. I respect my coach but I am not his thing. Like all players I have bickered with my coaches. But at a certain point men who do not understand each other reconcile. This is not possible with Pep, who is very rigid. The other players will never admit it publicly but some have already told me that they ended up hating him. Because he manipulates and plays a lot with your head.”

Touré added: “I think I was dealing with someone who just wanted revenge on me. I do not know why but I have the impression that he was jealous of me, that he took me for a rival. There you have it. We always looked at each other weirdly. He was spinning around me without saying anything, watching me, gauging me but not talking to me. Yet he knows that I speak Catalan, Spanish and English. It should be enough to communicate. But apparently no ... Every time we passed each other, he seemed embarrassed. As if I made him a little self-conscious. As if, also, he had understood that I knew him perfectly.”

The player also stated that he considered posting his training statistics from the club’s physical trainers on social media in a bid to vent his frustration before deciding against it because he did not want to “hurt the team”.

Touré said: “As someone proud, he wants to succeed with his players, those he has chosen and not those who have been chosen by others. This is his project. And woe to him who does not belong to it. Actually I want to be the one who breaks the Guardiola myth a bit. Barcelona, he did not invent it. He just had the intelligence to adapt what Cruyff had set up. Then, at Bayern and City, he tried to reproduce the same patterns but with this requirement: working with ‘his’ players and with almost unlimited means. It would not work at Crystal Palace or Watford.”

To mark his departure last month the City chairman, Khaldoon al-Mubarak, arranged for the club’s main training pitch to be named after Touré in recognition of his contribution. A tiled mural of the midfielder celebrating his winning goal against Stoke City in the 2011 FA Cup final also stands as a permanent memorial, although the man who won seven trophies in his spell in Manchester said his memories will always be marred by the circumstances of his departure.

Guardiola promised “a beautiful farewell” for Touré and joined a ceremony at the end of the player’s last game for the club, the 3-1 home win over Brighton, where Touré was hailed by City fans and the captain, Vincent Kompany, offered warm praise for his team-mate. But Touré told France Football. “I would have preferred to have no ceremony and leave with my head higher. I have the impression that Pep, without acknowledgment or respect, did everything to spoil my last season. It hurts when you spent eight years in a club. He stole my farewells with City, a club where the fans are beautiful. I would have liked to leave with emotion of this club as could Iniesta or Buffon. But Pep prevented me.”


Ed Aarons

The GuardianTramp

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