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Manchester bosses Solskjaer, Guardiola at odds over use of tactical fouls

MANCHESTER, England -- Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Pep Guardiola were at the centre of a disagreement over tactical fouls on the eve of Wednesday's crucial Manchester derby.

The Manchester United manager held a news conference early on Tuesday and claimed that City deliberately foul high up the pitch to stop opponents from counter-attacking.

But Guardiola rubbished the claims at his own news conference in the afternoon, insisting he has never set up a team he has managed to foul tactically.

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"We have got to be ready for the press, for their pressing, they have got quality on the ball, so we have got to defend well," Solskjaer told a news conference.

"When we win it we have got to be ready for their aggression, because they will snap at your ankles and heels and kick you, they are not going to allow us easy counter-attacking because there will be fouls.

"I have absolutely no doubt about it because when you watch those games they commit so many players forward and they will be stopping us as high as they can I think."

Asked about making tackles high up the pitch, Solskjaer added: "You don't get the yellow cards, do you? But that's just because they commit so many players forward and you can clearly see that they've got them in that mould of trying to win the ball back, and they do make fouls.

"It's up to us to play through that press, be ready enough, play one and two-touch, don't give them time. If you spend two or three touches... it's not my decision."

Solskjaer's comments left some at City some baffled with one source sharing statistics with ESPN FC that don't reflect well on United.

City have committed 288 fouls to United's 381 this season, with 170 in the opposition half compared to 195 for their neighbours. Guardiola's side are also top of the Fair Play table with United in 19th.

Asked if the comments could influence the performance of the referee, the Catalan coach said: "That is the reason why, of course. I don't think [it could be successful] because we don't do that."

Guardiola said he wants his team to win the ball quickly, but insisted that he had never instructed his players to deliberately foul.

"I know exactly what I said to my players from day one to the last day," he said. "So when a player wants to attack, we have to be honest and of course there is contact, there are fouls, but when it happens and you arrive late and that is why there are referees, to make yellow cards or red cards or whatever they decide

"We want to do our game, sometimes it's not possible. Sometimes it's difficult to understand that, but the other teams play too. But I never said I'm going to do that to punish them or cancel them making having fouls. Never."

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