Pep Guardiola has expressed bemusement at suggestions he once cold-shouldered Roy Hodgson after losing to the veteran Watford manager.
Hodgson, whose side head north to face Guardiola’s Manchester City on Saturday, said this week he was snubbed by the Spaniard after his Crystal Palace side won 3-2 at the Etihad Stadium in 2018.
The former England manager was speaking in the context of how a win for his relegation-threatened Hornets in this weekend’s Premier League encounter could derail City’s title quest.
Hodgson said: “Pep didn’t speak to me for a long while after Palace managed to steal a win up there and, if we get a win this time, he will probably never speak to me again!”
Guardiola claims that never happened and assumes Hodgson must have been speaking with his tongue in his cheek.
The City boss said: “It’s not true. When I lose I am always correct with my opponents and always I talk. We don’t invite for the traditional wine glass, but it’s not true.
“He beat me, he celebrated and I congratulated him. That’s all. Why should I not be friends for winning or losing?
“You are more happy when you win and more sad when you lose but the relation is always the same. I’m pretty sure it was a joke.”
Champions City head into Saturday’s game with a one-point advantage at the top of the table and with a chance to extend that to four points ahead of second-placed Liverpool’s clash with Everton on Sunday.
Watford, seven points off safety, are in serious danger of making an immediate return to the Championship but Guardiola is not assuming it will be a straightforward encounter.
He said: “Roy Hodgson has incredible experience. With Crystal Palace we always struggled to break them down, to do good games.
“Except for four or five games they would be in the middle of the table.
“Everyone plays for some targets – to be champions, qualification for Champions League, Europa League, not to be relegated. Every game has its importance.
“Watford, when you analyse, have quality, especially the physicality they have in the middle and up front.
“But we know what we have to do – be ourselves and try to get three more points.”
Guardiola believes City have no margin for error as he expects Liverpool to win all their remaining six games.
He said: “We cannot drop points but they cannot drop points either. The players know it. We were in this position before and know we have to win.
“Of course we enjoy it. We prefer to be in this position than not having a chance to make back-to-back Premier League titles.”
City are hopeful right-back Kyle Walker will soon be back in contention.
The England international has missed the last two games with an ankle injury and his return would be timely with Joao Cancelo suspended for Tuesday’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Real Madrid.
“He’s getting better,” Guardiola said. “Tomorrow we will see.”
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