Arsene Wenger says Manchester City’s success is not about Pep Guardiola — but how much he spends.
The Arsenal manager hit out ahead of their clash in the Carabao Cup final at Wembley tomorrow.
Wenger dismissed the notion Guardiola has taken football to new heights at mega-bucks City this season.
He said: “No. Because look at Barcelona, they are still the best team in Europe.
“You have to accept that the modern game has changed, with the recruitment of the best players by a small number of clubs.
“As managers, maybe we can impart our philosophy on our teams. But this game now belongs to the players, their importance has become bigger than ever before.”
Wenger also claimed referee Craig Pawson must ignore Guardiola’s call for ‘extra protection’ from bad tackles.
SunSport revealed the nine fouls Guardiola and City believe should have been more severely punished this season — and their request for a meeting with refs’ chief Mike Riley.
Pressed on Guardiola’s demands, Wenger replied: “Extra protection? I don’t know what that means.
“Protection, yes. But we just want the referees to protect the rule book.
“You want the refs to make the right decision, that is all.
“We know to beat them we will have to be at a different level — and I don’t want to speculate on City weakness.
“They have so many top players you think you have to stop, it is better to focus on the team plan rather than on any individual.”
Wenger snubbed the chance to sign Guardiola when the former Spain midfielder was leaving Barcelona in 2001.
He added: “We had top-class players in his position.”
Wenger is still sweating over the fitness of midfielder Aaron Ramsey while Raheem Sterling is a doubt for City.