Pep Guardiola called for Manchester City to receive apologies from their accusers after their Champions League ban was overturned.
Guardiola said City had suffered reputational damage and were accused of cheating before the Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that they should not be barred from European competitions for two years for what Uefa had deemed breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations.
That punishment was revoked on Monday in a decision that Guardiola said made him “incredibly happy” as he pronounced it “a great day” for the game.
But he felt many were too quick to jump to judgement about City and said: “We were damaged, we should be apologised [to]. The people say we cheated were lying, and many times. The presumption of innocence wasn’t there.
“Our prestige and reputation were damaged by accusations and we showed they were not true. People should accept it as we should complain and we didn’t. The other ones shouldn’t say much more on this. It was a good day for football as we play with the same rules as all the clubs in Europe. If we had broke the rules we’d be banned.”
He urged rival clubs to stop talking behind City’s back, adding: “Clubs whispering about us, I’d like it to finish. I’d like to say people look in our eyes and if you have to say it, do it face to face. They don’t understand how difficult it was at this time being under suspicion for something we haven’t done.”
Guardiola, whose contract includes another year, had pledged to remain at City for the remainder of his deal, regardless of the outcome of the appeal and added: “Some people suggested we should play in League Two. I would have stayed.”
Guardiola was scathing about the La Liga president Javier Tebas, an outspoken critic of City who said CAS was “not up to standard” after Monday’s verdict.
“This guy must be so jealous of the Premier League, he’s an incredible legal expert,” the Catalan said sarcastically. “Next time we’ll ask them which court should judge us. We will be in the Champions League next season, Senor Tebas, because what we did, we did it properly.”
Eight Premier League clubs had sent a letter arguing that City should not play in Europe next season if their appeal had not been concluded in time.
“They all want the fifth position for the Champions League, that I understand,” Guardiola added. “What they didn’t want for us to delay for next year. We were so clear, we agree, we want the resolution as soon as possible.”
Guardiola launched a passionate defence of City. He explained: “I love this club. I know the people here are working for a long time. When you do something wrong, I am the first to say we have to apologise or accept the [punishment].
“But it was not the case. I don’t want to apologise for anything. Manchester City don’t have to apologise because the three independent judges decide we have done everything properly.”
Guardiola also railed at the accusations that City have bought success by arguing their neighbours have outbid them for two players in recent years and that previous title winners have spent heavily as he argued that fans need not worry about his possible departure next summer.
“This club is incredibly solid, with Pep and without Pep,” he said. “Don’t be troubled. This club had success before my arrival here, with [Roberto] Mancini, with [Manuel] Pellegrini. They have incredible players. This is the reason why.
“We want to keep it and reinforce as much as we can. We had a lot of money but we want Alexis Sanchez and we could not afford it. We wanted Harry Maguire but we could not afford it.
“We could not pay like United pay so we have money but the other clubs have money do. We spend in the last decade more than in the past, yes, but 25 years ago Arsenal with Arsene Wenger spend a lot of money to be there.
“Manchester United spend a lot of money with Sir Alex Ferguson to be there. Being a good manager like I am, I am not enough without good players: no way. I am humble enough to accept that without my players I am nothing: zero.”