Pep Guardiola turned up the heat ahead of the Manchester derby by accusing Zlatan Ibrahimovic of stabbing him in the back.

United striker Ibrahimovic branded Guardiola a “spineless coward” in his autobiography after the pair’s fall-out at Barcelona and claimed he was mistreated by his former boss, who sold him.

But City boss Guardiola hit back at Ibrahimovic on the eve of the derby, insisting he was always straight with the maverick striker.

“He explained in his book about what he believes,” said Guardiola. “But always I was clear, I spoke with him always face-to-face – always.

“I never used the media to explain what I wanted from Zlatan on the pitch, never.

“The people can say many, many things, but I was so clear and direct to him.”

Ibrahimovic was furious his time at Barcelona did not work out and claimed he was sacrificed to allow Lionel Messi to occupy his role through the middle.

The former Sweden captain, who has thrived at United with three goals in as many games, will be desperate to exact revenge on Guardiola.

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