Pep Guardiola says he would not apologise for urging more Manchester City fans to attend Saturday's match with Southampton and insists he would leave the club if people were not happy with him.
An attendance of 38,062 watched City's 6-3 win over RB Leipzig on Wednesday, and afterwards Guardiola said the club "need" more supporters to attend Saturday's 3pm kick-off against Southampton at the 55,000-seater Etihad Stadium.
The comments irked the general secretary of City's official supporters' club, Kevin Parker, who said Guardiola should "stick" to coaching as he "doesn't understand the difficulties" supporters face.
Parker also pointed out City's two Premier League home attendances so far this season, against Norwich (51,437) and Arsenal (52,276), have been close to capacity.
In response, Guardiola said: "Did I say after the game that I was disappointed that the stadium was not full? An interpretation is an interpretation.
"I am surprised about what happened with this man. It's not the first time I've said this in my career.
"I am not going to apologise for what I said. What I said was we need the support. It doesn't matter how many people come but I invite them to come and enjoy the game because we need the support.
"Always I've said, guys if you want to join us I will be incredibly happy, because I know how difficult it will be. I prefer to be with my people than without my people. But if they don't come for any reason it's perfect.
"I never say 'Why didn't you come?'. Mr Parker should review the comments I've done the day after, but I will not apologise to him.
"The club is the most important thing and the most important part of the club is the fans. They sustain it. I love this club, I am part of this club. When people are not happy with me I will leave, that is for sure."
Asked if building a base will come with time, Guardiola replied: "This is a big mistake. We are who we are, we're proud of who we are.
"I know the history. I learned the history of this club, what it means to travel and follow this team. I don't want to be like United, Liverpool, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Madrid, like all the big clubs, we are who we are.
"I like it. To misunderstand and put some words in my mouth I didn't say, I don't like it. I will never have a problem with my fans. If I have a problem I will step aside, I am one of them. Since day one I've tried to do my best.
"I like to play at the stadium with my fans. It was a tough game against Leipzig. I was exhausted, I saw my team in the locker room how difficult it was, and in that moment I was thinking it's Southampton in three days, and I said come to join us, come to do it together, come to beat the team of Ralph [Hasenhuttl] because I know how difficult it will be.
"This is my message, but if this guy wants to misunderstand my comments, this is a problem, but I'm here to defend what I said. If I make mistakes I'm here to say I'm sorry, but in that case I will not apologise. It's to be part of something, and do it together. I like the fans we have."
'Maybe he should stick to coaching'
Parker called on Guardiola to be more considerate of circumstances for home fans.
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"[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."
After a resounding victory in their opening Champions League group game, Guardiola said: "I would like more people to come to the next game on Saturday.
"We will need the people next Saturday, please, because we will be tired. I invite all our people to come next Saturday, 3pm, and watch the game."
His comments further confused Parker because of their two home attendances against Norwich and Arsenal.
"Of course he would want a full house but I don't know why he would question whether we'd have one against Southampton on Saturday. It is a different scenario," Parker said.
"We have played two Saturday home games and the stadium - from a City perspective at least, Norwich didn't sell their full allocation - was full on both occasions.
"I don't think anybody anywhere within the club should be questioning the loyalty of the supporters. It is frustrating."