• Champions League

Is this the real reason United missed out on Guardiola?

Steven Saunders
April 2, 2014
Watch Guardiola's patience run out

A tetchy exchange with journalists following Bayern Munich's 1-1 draw against Manchester United might have shone some light on why Pep Guardiola is not managing in England.

Guardiola was a potential successor to Sir Alex Ferguson before opting to end his hiatus from football by joining the German and European champions last year. United's stability as a club and their loyalty to managers were both positive points for Guardiola, sources said, so what went wrong?

On Tuesday night, we were given a clue. Bayern's Champions League quarter-final first leg on Tuesday night had not gone according to form, with United earning an unexpected draw and Bastian Schweinsteiger being sent off for a challenge on Wayne Rooney.

During his post-match media obligations, Guardiola attempted to toe the line between giving his honest assessment of the game and not providing a sensational quote for the media to pore over. It did not play out well, as you can see from the video above.

Did you think it was a sending off? "I have just spoken with the referee and he knows my opinion. He gave me his opinion."

Bastian Schweinsteiger remonstrates with Wayne Rooney after being sent off © PA Photos

It sounds like you didn't agree with him? "Absolutely not."

You gave a diving motion to Wayne Rooney? "Diving? No, I didn't see it. I think he is a very, very good referee. I think he [produced] a very good game, but it [the Schweinsteiger decision] is unfair. But it's okay. To win the Champions League you have to solve and overcome everything."

Could you elaborate? "No, I gave my opinion to the referee."

Later he is asked if he could go back to the sending off again. "No, I spoke two times about that. Don't insist. It's happened. In football, it happens, this kind of thing."

Guardiola was then asked if he was disappointed with the result. "It is not easy against nine players in the box, eight, nine players there. But we controlled the game."

Do you think that United were a bit negative? "Nein. Nein, nein, nein."

But you're saying it was very difficult against nine men in the box. They're at home, they're the 20-time champion of England… "I didn't say that."

I'm just asking you… "I didn't say that. I didn't say that. That [Moyes] is my colleague, I respect my colleague and my colleague can play… look at me when I talk to you. Yeah, look at me when I talk to you. I'm talking to you and you look at that [gesturing to the door]. I am trying to explain."

At this point, the Bayern Munich press officer jumps in. "One or two more questions because we have to leave." A frustrated Guardiola simply shakes his head as if to say "why do I have to put up with this?"

In here, Mourinho is the fucking man and I can't compete with him
Pep Guardiola, April 2011

It is not a new sensation for Guardiola. He is, after all, the man who walked away for a sabbatical from Barcelona - a club he had been connected with since the age of 13 and which was at the top of the world game. So perhaps the prospect of continual media grillings as manager of United were the deciding factor in his career move.

Managing Germany's biggest club is hardly a picnic, but you only have to look at the way in which David Moyes's every move has been questioned and picked over this season to spot the difference in intensity.

It is also worth noting that earlier on Tuesday, Jose Mourinho had laughed, joked and smiled with reporters through his pre-match press conference for Chelsea's quarter-final tie with Paris Saint-Germain. Asked about Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Mourinho dropped in that it was a shame the PSG striker had never tested himself in the "greatest league in the world" - the Premier League. The audience, largely made up of English journalists whose bread and butter is the Premier League, lapped it up.

Where Mourinho enjoys the mind games and media manipulation that comes with being a top manager, Guardiola has no time for it. "In this room [Real Madrid's press room], he is the chief, the fucking man," said Guardiola famously before his Barcelona beat Mourinho's Real Madrid in a Champions League semi-final in 2011. "In here he is the fucking man and I can't compete with him."

Mourinho and Guardiola - one revelling in England, the other wishing he could be anywhere but here.

Steven Saunders is Senior Editor for ESPN.co.uk

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd