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After tunnel skirmish, United and City managers on defensive

(AP Photo/Dave Thompson)


AP Global Soccer Writer

Two days after the Manchester derby skirmish in the tight Old Trafford tunnel, the managers of United and City went on the defensive on Tuesday.

Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola were separated by 10 miles (16 kilometers), staging near simultaneous news conferences, as they defended the conduct of their teams.

A tentative Mourinho was far less assertive than he was reported to be in the heat of Sunday's incident that further inflamed the rivalry between the English Premier League's top two.

Mourinho, renowned for his spats, histrionics, and animated touchline antics, was incensed by City's raucous celebrations after winning on United territory.

After initially refusing to discuss the 2-1 loss and trying to force reporters to ask about Wednesday's game against Bournemouth, Mourinho couldn't resist speaking out at United's Carrington complex.

"The only thing I can say is that for me it was just a question of diversity," Mourinho said, "diversity in behaviors, diversity in education. Just that and nothing more than that."

Certainly nothing more once a United communications officials blocked further questions on the confrontation that saw milk and water thrown at Mourinho and is now being investigated by the Football Association.

Guardiola was perplexed Mourinho questioned City's right - within their dressing room - to revel in victory that took the team 11 points clear of United at the Premier League summit.

"We won a derby against Manchester United, at that moment the biggest rival," Guardiola said. "So people expect we are not going to celebrate? No. We celebrate. When United win a derby they celebrate, when Arsenal win against United they celebrate. When United or Arsenal win the FA Cup they celebrate. But where? Inside the locker room. That's what we do and we did."

City assistant coach Mikel Arteta sustained a cut on his forehead in the melee that erupted around the doorway to City's dressing room, where loud music was playing.

"I encourage the players to celebrate the victories, but of course inside the locker room," Guardiola said. "We have huge respect for our opponents - not just for Manchester United, all the opponents. When we lose you have to accept the defeat, when we win we try to celebrate."

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Rob Harris is at and

Updated December 12, 2017

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