Pep Guardiola distanced Manchester City from the two banned supporters who chanted offensively following the death of Sir Bobby Charlton, insisting the pair “don’t represent us”.
Footage emerged on social media of two people, both minors, chanting about Charlton during City’s match against Brighton last weekend, soon after the Manchester United great’s death was announced publicly.
City have acted swiftly, denouncing the chanting as “vile”, ahead of Sunday’s Manchester derby at Old Trafford, where United will hold a minute’s applause before kick-off in memory of Charlton.
Guardiola is hopeful the travelling fans will conduct themselves respectfully, as he condemned the behaviour of the two fans who have been suspended from attending City matches home and away.
“They don’t represent us,” Guardiola said. “Alcohol makes bad things in people. (City ambassador) Mike Summerbee went to Old Trafford to sign the book (of condolence for Charlton), he represents us.
“We have huge respect for Manchester United, especially for the icon of Sir Bobby Charlton. We will be part of the condolences, to Man United and English football.”
This weekend will be the first meeting between the rivals since last season’s FA Cup final, when Ilkay Gundogan’s double sealed a 2-1 win for City as they collected a second trophy en route to the treble.
With only nine matches gone in the Premier League so far, this derby does not have the same emphasis but it is a fixture that former Barcelona and Bayern Munich boss Guardiola has always enjoyed.
“When I was at Barcelona and Bayern Munich and I travelled to England to play against United at Old Trafford, it was always special,” he said. “It is a special place and here it is special for our fans.
“The clubs have a good rivalry. The clubs respect each other, no big issues have happened in my eight seasons here. Of course the FA Cup final was special because we wanted to win and win the treble.
“But it’s not like an FA Cup final or the last fixtures of the season where winning or losing can define winning the Premier League or not.
“There have only been nine fixtures so there are 87 points to play for. It’s another game, we have to be focused to beat them.”
City, who will be without suspended defender Manuel Akanji, beat Brighton last weekend to rebound from successive top-flight defeats at Wolves and Arsenal before the international break.
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They currently sit second, behind Tottenham, but United, who finished third last season, have had a turbulent start to their campaign, losing four times in their first nine fixtures.
While City are six points and as many places ahead of United, Guardiola is on his guard after Erik Ten Hag’s side snatched victory in last season’s corresponding showdown.
“United have always had that feeling – it doesn’t matter who the manager is – they are a tough, tough opponent,” Guardiola said.
“The qualities of the individuals they have, the stadium, the character they have, the momentum. They can score goals, we know the quality they have. Always that has been and always it will be.”