Pep Guardiola says he never “started a fire” within Manchester City over the failed summer bid to buy Harry Kane from Tottenham.
The champions host Spurs in Saturday’s late game when the centre-forward is expected to start for Antonio Conte’s team. Guardiola had targeted Kane as his preferred No 9 but insisted there was no complaint when the club could not prise him from Tottenham.
“I was never in my 11- or 12-year career disappointed in what the club I manage cannot do in the transfer market,” he said. “And I never created a fire here because I represent the club and the club is always beyond myself by far. When we have some talks and cannot agree, we do it internally. We tried [for Kane] but it was far away [from] being done because Tottenham were clear this is not going to happen. And when they say this two, three, four times, it’s over.”
Despite missing out on a proven goalscorer, City sit nine points clear of Liverpool at the top of the Premier League, having played one more match. Guardiola admits the lack of a focal point in attack caused him uncertainty going into the campaign.
“Now you can say: ‘Harry Kane didn’t come and everything is going well,’” he said. “But at the time I didn’t know it. We lost to Spurs [in the season opener] and Leicester in the Community Shield. And I don’t know what will happen in the next few weeks. The club gave me players and I’m always delighted – and it’s then what we can do together. Maybe if we had a proper striker we would play with a striker but with the players we have we have to adapt.
“I know they [the club] do the best for me. When we lose we are sad but nobody is pointing fingers saying: ‘Your fault, your fault, your fault.’ We don’t do that. That’s why I’m happy here. At other clubs when you lose it’s: ‘What’s the problem?’”
Guardiola also reflected on his error in his first Premier League meeting with Conte in December 2016. He switched to a three-man defence to mirror the Italian’s Chelsea formation. “We played three at the back, we lost 3-1,” he said. “What a decision I made.”