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Sources: Man City close on €80m Saul deal

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Pep Guardiola hits back at Jose Mourinho's tactical fouls comments

MANCHESTER -- Pep Guardiola says he never sends out his players with instructions to foul after Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho accused his side of "tactical fouls."

Mourinho made the comments ahead of the Manchester derby on Sunday, which Manchester City won 2-1, committing 10 fouls to United's 16 and picking up two fewer yellow cards than United's four.

The Football Association has since asked Mourinho to provide his observations about his comments after also saying that the City players "lose their balance very easily."

But Guardiola denied Mourinho's accusations and says it's harder to commit fouls if you are in control of the possession.

"When we have the ball, we kick each other? I think that doesn't happen in football," the City boss told a news conference ahead of Saturday's game at Tottenham Hotspur. "I don't know statistically but I don't think so.

"I never, never, never, never sent a message to my players. You can ask the players, these players and the old players if my message on the pitch was to make fouls. I don't use this kind of message."

Guardiola said they occasionally commit fouls but insists it is not a tactic and they try to stop opponents' counter-attacks by winning the ball back quickly.

Ander Herrera despite his size has become an enforcer for Jose Mourinho.
Ander Herrera and Nicolas Otamendi square off in the Manchester derby.

"[We try] to be ready, to be close, to be close to their run," he added. "Of course, we make fouls. Of course, we do that. We are not a saint. Of course we do fouls.

"It's because of the way the game is. Sometimes, when tripping, you make a foul and get a yellow card. That's football."

City have a chance to extend their record-breaking winning streak with a 16th successive league win against Spurs, who they have failed to beat for the past two seasons.

It will see Kyle Walker face his old club in a competitive game for the first time and Guardiola believes the defender is one of the best right-backs in the world but says he can still improve.

"Right now I'd rate him as one of the best definitely," Guardiola said. "He is so strong defensively. I'd like to help him to solve not just the problems through his physically but also through his thinking.

"When you are so strong physically, you solve all the problems that way. When you get to a certain age, 28, 29, 30, after that you need to think more about what is going to happen. I always encourage him to think and after, do it.

"Of course against [United's Marcus] Rashford and [Anthony] Martial they are so fast and he was able to control them -- few players in the world can control them like he did. That's why he's so, so important for us."

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.

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