MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - If there is one thing that still riles Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola, it is the suggestion that his Premier League success is down to money.
After City were cleared of breaking UEFA’s Financial Fair Play rules by the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which overturned the club’s two-year European ban, the Spaniard was in a fiery mood as he railed against the idea that cash was behind the club’s two Premier League titles.
For Guardiola, who won back-to-back titles in 2018 and 2019, City are by no means unusual when it comes to spending big on players.
The Spaniard, whose side are still fighting this season for their first Champions League title, said Manchester United and Arsenal had also invested heavily to win previous Premier League titles.
“When Chelsea start to win Premier Leagues, they invest more money than the other ones,” he told reporters.
“I’m a good manager but I don’t win titles if I don’t have good players and good players are expensive, but all the clubs spend a lot of money.”
City have spent more than a billion pounds on acquiring players since the club was bought by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2008.
Guardiola took over the team in 2016 and has spent heavily in the transfer market, including nine players who cost more than 45 million pounds ($56.46 million) each.
“We can spend as much money as our chairman or our owners want, but always, always in the Financial Fair Play rules and we show it, we were there. We were exonerated for something we were accused of, all the time. That is the reality,” said Guardiola.
“When we won here guys, it was on the pitch. All the good things we have done, all the bad things we have done it was on the pitch, in the grass, in the green, there,” he said.
Guardiola pointed out that neighbours Manchester United outbid them to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal and Harry Maguire from Leicester City and highlighted big spending from other eras.
The former Barcelona manager said the pressure of the UEFA investigation had brought him closer to City.
“I love this club. I love, because I know the people here and I’m working (with them) for a long time. We have our history. I don’t know if it’s better or worse, it doesn’t matter, it’s our history. I love it,” he said.
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Reporting by Simon Evans; Editing by Toby Davis