South Africa

Guardiola denies tipping De Zerbi as Man City successor

Pep Guardiola Roberto De Zerbi Manchester City Brighton English Premier League

Pep Guardiola has denied tipping Brighton boss Roberto De Zerbi to be his successor at Manchester City.

A recent report claimed Guardiola told a group of Brighton players his De Zerbi prediction after City drew at the Amex Stadium in May.

Guardiola, whose City contract runs until 2025, reportedly said “that’s the next Manchester City manager” about De Zerbi, whose impressive work with the Seagulls has earned him admiration across the Premier League.

With Brighton visiting City on Saturday, Guardiola insisted he had no recollection of making the claim, but he was quick to lavish praise on the Italian.

“I don’t remember that. Maybe I have bad memory but I’m sure Roberto can train in any team around the world. I don’t have any doubt,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.

“I don’t remember saying that to the players. I remember saying before he arrived, one or two games in, about sustaining the manager, but I don’t remember saying that honestly.

“It’s none of my business. If the chairman asks my opinion I will give my opinion but it’s none of my business.

“I’m not the sporting director. It’s not my responsibility to say what’s going right or wrong.”

Former Sassuolo and Shakhtar Donetsk boss De Zerbi has made a big impression since taking over at Brighton just over a year ago.

He guided the club into European competition for the first time with a sixth-placed finish in the Premier League last season and they have started the current campaign strongly.

No need for top level experience

Guardiola believes De Zerbi’s impact shows a manager need not have had experience at the highest level to land the biggest jobs.

“It doesn’t mean you have to be at the top clubs to be manager of the top clubs. I was appointed Barcelona first-team (manager) coming from the fourth division with no experience at the top level,” he said.

“You have the idea of the club, the sporting director follows the idea, they hire the manager for this idea, they hire players to follow the idea. When that happens it’s going well.

“Man City have done this, Liverpool with Jurgen (Klopp) for many years – winning titles with the same process and same ideas.”