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“I need enemies. I love when people hate me and hope I fail. It gives me fire and makes me think “OK, watch this.” It’s a necessity for all athletes, not only coaches. This kept us going and helps us perform every three days.”
It’s lucky that Pep Guardiola embraces his enemies, because over the years he picked up more than a few.
In a career which has already seen him win almost every club honour, the Manchester City boss has ruffled a few feathers.
Segio Aguero’s father Leonel del Castillo is the latest to send some harsh words his way, accusing Guardiola of faking his emotional farewell to the striker.
Sergio Aguero's dad suggested Pep Guardiola's emotional farewell was faked
"I don't believe his tears. He never wanted him, he wants to be the protagonist of all his teams," Leonel told Radio La Red. "He never treated him well, nor me or his brothers.
"Guardiola is a great coach but from one day to the next he changes the players, the environment changes.
“You never know if you are a starter or not. He said he [Aguero] was irreplaceable but does not have him in the squad."
Here are four others that have enjoyed, on occasions, a none too friendly rivalry with the 50-year-old.
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It makes sense to start with Pep’s arch-nemesis Jose Mourinho, with the two enjoying a rivalry that has stretched back more than a decade.
After being friends during Guardiola’s playing days, they have become fierce opponents since becoming managers.
Mourinho felt slighted when he was overlooked for the Barcelona job back in 2008 and has spent the proceeding years taking great pleasure in getting one over him.
The two have been rivals for a number of years, stretching back to when Pep was preferred to Mourinho for the Barca job
(Image: AFP/Getty Images)
When he was handed the Real Madrid role things got even spicier, with Mourinho inventing conspiracy theories aplenty, with hostilities boiling over in 2011 when the Los Blancos boss jabbed a finger in the eye of Pep’s assistant, the late Tito Vilanova.
“The beauty of football depends on the coach. It seems to me that Mourinho prefers the result to the spectacle.” Meow.
Eto'o took aim at Pep, suggesting his role was underplayed
(Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Where does Guardiola rank in a list of the greatest club managers? Have your say in the comments
The Cameroonian striker played a key role in Guardiola’s historic 2009 campaign at Barca, one which ended in Champions League glory in Rome.
But he was then allowed to leave the Nou Camp, a decision which he clearly didn’t agree with.
“Pep Guardiola has lived his whole life in Barcelona, but in the years I spent there he didn’t understand the squad. He didn’t live the life of our group,” Eto’o told beIN Sports.
“I said to Guardiola: ‘you’ll apologise to me because it’s me that will make Barcelona win – not Lionel Messi’.
"I first of all reminded Guardiola that he'd never been a great player," he added.
"As a coach he had proven nothing, he didn’t even know the story of the dressing room."
Guardiola actually brought Zlatan to Barcelona, but it quickly turned sour. Just a season after his arrival, the Swede was allowed to join AC Milan, where he would eventually sign permanently.
Pep and Zlatan enjoyed a very tumultuous relationship when the two were at Barca
(Image: Action Images)
Ever since, he has had no issue in sending digs at his former manager, reserving extensive sections of his autobiography to that very end.
"When you buy me, you are buying a Ferrari. If you drive a Ferrari, you put premium petrol in the tank, you hit the motorway and you step on the gas,” he humbly explained. “Guardiola filled up with diesel and took a spin in the countryside. He should have bought a Fiat."
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He added: "We had the best team in the world but we failed to win the Champions League because of bad decisions from someone.
"As a coach, he was fantastic. As a person, I've no comments about that, that's something else. He's not a man, there's nothing more to say."
The midfielder played under Guardiola at both Barcelona and Manchester City, but following his Etihad departure he made certain comments pointing to racial bias in his team selections.
Yaya Toure has revealed he has written a letter to Pep Guardiola to apologise for comments he made about the Manchester City manager shortly after his departure from the club in 2018
(Image: Victoria Haydn/Manchester City FC via Getty Images)
“(Guardiola) insists he has no problems with black players, because he is too intelligent to be caught out,” he said.
“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.”
He has since retracted his comments and asked for a face-to-face meeting to formally apologise. As of 2021, that meeting has yet to take place.