Liverpool forward Sadio Mane will not change his style of play despite Pep Guardiola’s “diving” accusation.
The Manchester City boss first made the claim last weekend, when the Senegal international was booked after going down in the penalty area following a challenge by Aston Villa’s Frederic Guilbert.
Manager Jurgen Klopp jumped to his defence and Guardiola subsequently rowed back on the comments, saying they were part of a longer speech in which he praised the forward and it was “far away from my intention to say Sadio is this type of player because I admire him a lot”.
Mane, unaware of the subsequent climbdown at the time having played in the 2-1 Champions League victory over Genk, was unmoved by Guardiola’s initial criticism as he believes if there is contact he has a right to go down.
And he offered a sarcastic response to the City boss ahead of the two sides meeting at Anfield this Sunday, saying: “If it could be a penalty for sure I will ‘dive’ again.
“If the ‘dive’ will give me a penalty then I will do it! Why not? But what Jurgen said is correct. I do not dive.
“There was contact (at Villa) for sure. Maybe it was not a penalty and he didn’t give it, and he gave me a yellow card. To be honest I don’t have any problem about it.
“It’s what I want to keep doing. If I get a penalty, yeah it’s a penalty. If no penalty, no penalty, but (it) will never change the way I’m playing or the way I’m doing my things.
“The only thing I can say I will be for sure ready for the team, to give everything possible, and to help my team.
“I think it’s a bit clever from him to get the attention of the referee but I will just play my football like I’m always doing. I don’t pay attention to what he’s saying because it’s part of football.
“No it doesn’t make anything (motivation-wise) for me. Even though I saw him commenting about it, what he said, for me, I think it’s positive.”
At the time Guardiola’s criticism was seen as the start of mind games leading up to Sunday’s Anfield encounter.
The defending Premier League champions trail Jurgen Klopp’s side by six points and defeat at the weekend would put them under even more scrutiny.
It is undoubtedly the game of the season so far – City are the only team to beat Liverpool in their last 50 league matches – and the hype surrounding it is huge.
“Interesting game. It’s a big game. Everybody knows and everybody’s excited. I think this is the kind of game which is always exciting and we’re looking forward to it,” added Mane.
“I can say one of the biggest tests, for sure, but if you ask me I would say not only City because against Aston Villa you can see how the game was and Leicester also was really tough.
“So I think we played already a few big games in this season and for sure City as well will be a big game.
“It will be really, really important for us to get a positive result and we will be ready, spot-on from the first second until the last. We will give everything possible to win.”