Pep Guardiola says he is sorry if Manchester City’s derby celebrations insulted Manchester United, but not if only Jose Mourinho took offence.
United manager Mourinho had milk thrown at him outside the dressing rooms after objecting to City’s raucous reaction.
“If we offended United – not just one player, not Jose – Manchester United, then I apologise,” said the Spaniard.
Mourinho said the incident after City’s 2-1 win was “a question of diversity in behaviour, diversity in education”.
He then concluded his Tuesday news conference by suggesting the continued focus on the incident showed a lack of respect to Bournemouth, who United play on Wednesday.
The Football Association says both clubs have until Wednesday to reply to a request for their observations of the incident.
However, Guardiola reiterated his players’ right to celebrate a victory that takes them 11 points clear of their neighbours and closest challengers at the top of the Premier League table.
“We have to enjoy those moments. If the people cannot understand that then I’m sorry. We won a derby,” he said of a Premier League-record 14th consecutive win.
“If we were not correct than I apologise to all of Manchester United. Our intentions was not that. It was to celebrate inside the locker room.”
Guardiola also said he is considering trying to sign a central defender during January. City had an £18m bid for West Brom centre-back Jonny Evans turned down in August.
Latest chapter in a book of grievances?
Mourinho and Guardiola worked together at Barcelona, as backroom staff and player respectively, but their relationship has been strained at times since turning to management.
After his departure from Chelsea in 2007, Mourinho reportedly met the Barcelona hierarchy and outlined his vision for the club, only to be overlooked in favour of the less-experienced Guardiola when Frank Rijkaard was replaced.
Two years later, Mourinho’s Inter Milan overcame Guardiola’s Barcelona side in a bad-tempered Champions League semi-final in 2010 that culminated in him running onto the Nou Camp pitch in defiant celebration.
In charge of Real Madrid, Mourinho poked his finger in the eye of Guardiola’s Barcelona assistant Tito Vilanova and suggested that the Catalan giants got favourable treatment from officials and governing body Uefa.
When Guardiola left Barca to take a break from football in 2012, Mourinho described the decision as “unthinkable”. He is younger than me, but I’m not tired,” the Portuguese added.
For his part, Guardiola has said that while he watches and assesses Mourinho’s teams, he prefers “to learn as little as possible from him off the pitch”.
Both took up their current roles in summer 2016 and their teams met three times last season with City winning at Old Trafford in the league in September, United taking revenge at home in the League Cup and a goalless draw at the Etihad in April.
Mourinho complained his side were denied two legitimate penalties in the first meeting and claimed that City striker Sergio Aguero had been “smart” in the incident that resulted in a red card for United midfielder Marouane Fellani in the third.
Before Sunday’s meeting, the Portuguese suggested that City’s players were prone to diving and tactical fouls to gain an advantage.
What actually happened in the tunnel?
City’s players initially celebrated Sunday’s victory in front of their fans, and coaching staff tried to persuade Guardiola to join them, but he refused.
After the players and staff headed down the tunnel, it is understood Mourinho complained outside the visitors’ dressing room as he made his way to interviews.
In the ensuing row, the Portuguese had water and milk thrown at him while City coach Mikel Arteta suffered a cut head after he was hit by a plastic drinks bottle.
It is not known who threw it and sources from both clubs say no punches were thrown during the incident.
“After the game, the players shake hands – no problem at all – and some players go and celebrate with the fans as normal,” said Guardiola in his news conference before Wednesday’s trip to Swansea.
“After that we went to the locker room and I encourage to the players to celebrate victories but, of course, inside the locker room. Of course, with huge respect for our opponents, not just Manchester United.
“When we lose we have to accept defeat and when we win to try to celebrate it.
“I am the guy who encouraged them to celebrate it in that moment but between each other. That is what we did.”