Sergio Aguero starts but John Stones is on the bench for Manchester City in this evening's important Premier League clash against West Bromwich Albion at the Etihad Stadium.
But Guardiola, whose side finish their campaign at Watford on Sunday, said: "I don't understand how the managers speak for the other clubs and the other teams".
"It's not his thing to let someone decide for him".
"Gabriel was awesome but I have to say, I think the key player up front was Sergio", Guardiola added. In my situation at a big club: I'm sacked.
City and United are local rivals and have enjoyed a healthy hostility in the nine years Zabaleta has been at the club.
"When I look at picture of Vinny (Kompany), Joe (Hart) and myself from 8/9 years ago, the owners were looking to build something big for this club, and of course trying to attract big players". I'm happy it's in our hands to finish third.
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Pep Guardiola discusses the influence of Pablo Zabaleta, who's set to leave Manchester City at the end of the season.
They could even secure Champions League qualification if Arsenal drop points against Sunderland on the same night, but their tight battle with the Gunners and Liverpool for two spaces could go to the final weekend.
The defender addressed supporters, who stayed behind after full-time, following the game and was given a standing ovation from the remaining crowd. "For that you need time and it is not easy", said Guardiola.
"He helped build something special and he deserved absolutely everything and the performance was good, but it was a resume of our season".
The Argentine came on for David Silva in the 62nd minute of City's 3-1 win over West Brom in their Premier League clash for an emotional farewell to the home support.
I have been part of the most successful period in Manchester City's history. When things have gone a little bit dodgy during a game and you're looking around for who is going to get hold of it and put a couple of tackles in - Zabaleta would be flawless for this group of players at the club. "I am sure the future is so bright and hopefully one day the club can achieve it".