Pep Guardiola’s old Barcelona frustrations coming out in comments on Man City fans

The Catalan coach wants more Man City fans to turn out for this weekend’s Premier League clash against Southampton but he is long familiar with club’s struggling to sell-out stadiums

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Pep Guardiola reflects after Manchester City’s 6-3 win against Leipzig

Pep Guardiola’s comments urging Manchester City fans to attend Saturday’s Premier League fixture at home to Southampton have caused somewhat of a stir.

The City boss appeared to be venting frustration that an attendance of just 38,062 were there to see his side defeat RB Leipzig 6-3 in their Champions League group stage opener – around 16,000 shy of the capacity of their Etihad home.

Guardiola used his post-match interview following that nine-goal thriller to call on more of the club’s fans to turn out for their upcoming game against the Saints.

“I would like more people to come to the next game on Saturday,” Guardiola told BT Sport after the Leipzig win.

“We will need the people next Saturday, please, because we will be tired. I invite all our people to come next Saturday, 3pm, and watch the game.”







Pep Guardiola has moved to clarify his comments on Man City attendances



Those comments did not go down well with sections of the club’s support, with Kevin Parker – the general secretary of City’s official supporters’ club – demanding that the boss be more considerate.

Parker claimed that the Catalan “doesn’t understand the difficulties” that many fans face for attending weeknight games including family issues, affordability and Covid.

Guardiola responded to those claims in his press conference on Friday: “Did I say after the game that I was disappointed that the stadium was not full?

“An interpretation is an interpretation. I am not going to apologise for what I said because I didn’t say it wrong.





“I’m surprised about what happened with this man [Parker]. It’s not the first time I said in my career – I said it at Barcelona and Bayern and here. When we played a tough game like Leipzig and play three games later with a lack of preparation (against Southampton) I know how difficult it is, to ask for us all to do it again on Saturday again.

“I made an approach to do something together again the next Saturday at 3pm. What I said was we need the support, with 10,000, 30,000, 40,000, 50,000 – it doesn’t matter how many people come – but I invite them to come and enjoy the game because we need the support.

“If after five seasons people cannot understand my behaviour it’s because they want to misunderstand exactly what I said. I’m not going to apologise for one second, because I was honest.”

The comments caused consternation among some elements of City’s support as they are a fanbase who have been teased by rivals for an apparent relative lack of support compared to other leading Premier League clubs.





Yet empty seats are not exclusive to Manchester City and nor should they be unusual to Guardiola, who began his senior coaching career at Barcelona.

The Catalan club’s Camp Nou stadium has a notable 99,000 capacity, yet during Guardiola’s rein at the club there was an average of between 20,000-30,000 empty seats during La Liga matches.

Guardiola’s appointment at Barca in 2008 followed a season in which their average attendance was just 68,524 across their 19 home league games and whilst this peaked at 79,219 during his reign – it had reverted to 71,350 by the time of his departure.

Barca under Guardiola were arguably the greatest club side of the modern era and they operated at the peak of their powers during the 2010/11 campaign.

Was Guardiola wrong to question Man City fans attendances? Let us know what you think in the comments below





Yet their final home match of that campaign – against Deportivo La Coruna – came in the wake of their famous Champions League semi-final triumph over arch-rivals Real Madrid and with the league title already secured. This should have been a triumphant occasion for Barca, yet only 70,044 attended that match meaning that the Camp Nou was a third empty.

This was not a fitting tribute from the Barca fans to their all-conquering heroes, who were playing at a level that was the envy of world football – who would go on to comprehensively defeat Manchester United in that season’s Champions League final.

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Ticket prices at Barcelona have been affordable in comparison to the leading Premier League clubs – a factor that helped lead to the club’s current financial crisis – yet unless their opponents were Real Madrid, plenty of tickets were available on the day.

Guardiola never issued a similar rallying cry for Barca fans to attend matches and is more than self-aware to understand that regular attendance at Manchester City matches will present multiple problems to fans, many of whom are unable to justify multiple matches per week.

Perhaps the highly-decorated Catalan is now venting frustrations from his early coaching days in an environment in which he feels comfortable to do it, but he should not be surprised at the difficulties of selling out stadiums.


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