Manchester City fans have told manager Pep Guardiola to “stick to coaching” after being “disappointed” by his plea for more supporters to attend home games.

Guardiola said his team will “need” a bigger presence at the Etihad against Southampton this weekend after seeing just over 38,000 of their 55,000 available seats taken for the 6-3 Champions League win over RB Leipzig.

But the general secretary of City’s official supporters’ club Kevin Parker wants Guardiola to be more considerate of circumstances, insisting the Spaniard “doesn’t understand the difficulties” supporters face.

“[What he said] did surprise me,” Parker said.

“I’m not sure what that’s got to do with him. He doesn’t understand the difficulties that some people might have getting to a game at the Etihad on a Wednesday evening at 8pm.

“They’ve got kids to think of, they might not be able to afford it, [and] there are still some Covid issues about. I don’t see why he comments on it.

“He’s absolutely the best coach in the world but, in the nicest possible way, I think maybe he should stick to that.

“It just takes the edge off what was a good night. People are talking more about Pep’s comments than a fantastic game. To question the support, which is effectively what he is doing, is disappointing and uncalled for.

“It does also play into the hands of supporters from other teams who want to take every opportunity to have a go at City for what they think are the poor attendances.

“People refer to the Etihad as the ‘Emptyhad’. It’s a little bit of fun by the opposition supporters but there’s no justification for it. It’s not factual. Our attendances are generally excellent.”

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