Pep Guardiola defended his Manchester City stars on Friday following reports they held a team-bonding party this week.
Reports claimed City’s players invited 22 Italian female Instagram models to attend the delayed Christmas party after last weekend’s Premier League win at Aston Villa.
It was suggested this was inappropriate behaviour given the Premier League champions were not allowed to attend City’s own Christmas event as Guardiola was concerned there would be a repeat of the 2018 gathering that saw several players out into the early hours.
But the City manager said he is a big believer in the value of his squad relaxing together.
Guardiola made it clear he was aware of the recent party and had no problem with players letting off steam.
“I knew (about) it. When they have time, they make a lot of dinners together, with the staff. They did it many times anyway,” Guardiola told reporters on Friday.
“And I like it when they are together outside here, they do it sometimes at home, sometimes in a restaurant as was the case. It was nice.”
Nights out on the town are a fairly distant memory for Guardiola, who turns 49 when his team faces Crystal Palace at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.
“The position when he took over, zero points and everyone thought they were relegated, he did an incredible job, it’s a pleasure and honour for me to face him. We’ve got a good relationship with him.”