Jamie Redknapp thinks Pep Guardiola “fears” Liverpool’s attacking threat after his bizarre criticism of Sadio Mane over the weekend.
Guardiola was speaking after a dramatic day for the leading duo, who both scored late goals as they came from behind to win – City beating Southampton 2-1 at home and Liverpool winning 2-1 away to Aston Villa.
Mane scored Liverpool’s winner in the fourth minute of stoppage time at Villa Park, but had seen yellow for simulation in the first half of the game.
Guardiola told Sky Sports: “Sometimes [Mane] is diving, sometimes he has this talent to score incredible goals in the last minute. He’s a talent.”
The comments have been interpreted as an early attempt at mind games from Guardiola ahead of their clash with Liverpool on Sunday – but Redknapp thinks he is scared of Mane.
“Hearing Pep Guardiola mention Sadio Mane and diving was surprising,” Redknapp told the Daily Mail.
“It is unusual to hear a manager say that about a rival player, but I don’t think it was Guardiola trying to wind up Mane ahead of this Sunday’s showdown at Anfield.
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“It wasn’t an attempt at mind games, or a deliberate dig. I believe Guardiola genuinely fears the threat of Mane.
“The Manchester City manager has him on his mind. He knows the 27-year-old is now Liverpool’s most important player. He is Jurgen Klopp’s No. 1 man, as proven on Saturday.
“In the 65th minute against Aston Villa, with the league leaders losing 1-0, Klopp took off Mohamed Salah. It was a big call, but it paid off.
“Mane made sure he got his head to the ball, even as Villa’s Jonathan Kodjia was trying to get his boot to it first. What a big, brave goal.”