Manchester City’s 3-3 draw with Tottenham ended in fury for the champions, prompting Pep Guardiola to say he would not make a “Mikel Arteta comment” and Erling Haaland to write “wtf” on X after the referee, Simon Hooper, stopped play with Jack Grealish clear on goal in added time.
Hooper, having waved play on for a foul on Haaland, halted the game after a pass by the Norwegian had put Grealish in behind the Spurs defence. Angry City players surrounded the referee – which may provoke a Football Association charge – and Guardiola remonstrated with the fourth official. When Hooper blew for time, Haaland departed the pitch visibly upset.
Guardiola, asked about the incident, responded pointedly. “Next question,” he said. “I will not do a Mikel Arteta comment. It is hard when you review the image: the referee decides to blow the whistle after he has already said to play on. After the pass, the whistle, so I do not understand this action.”
Guardiola was referring to Arteta’s comments after Anthony Gordon’s winner for Newcastle against Arsenal was allowed to in the wake of three VAR checks. Arteta called the decision “an absolute disgrace”.
City’s manager was more forthcoming when asked about Haaland’s reaction at the end. “It’s normal,” he said. “His reaction was the same for 10 players. The rules are you cannot talk with the referees or fourth officials so we should have had 10 players sent off today. He’s a little bit disappointed. Even the referee, if he played for Man City today he would be disappointed for that action, that’s for sure.”
Guardiola refused to blame the decision for the result. “I make mistakes, the players make mistakes. I don’t want to criticise him. On the touchline sometimes I lose my mind and my gestures are not proper but here normally for many years as a manager I’m not a guy when I’m refreshed [calm] to comment. But I would say we didn’t draw for that.”
On X, Haaland wrote “wtf” above a clip of the incident. The FA is likely to charge him or Guardiola only if it concludes they have questioned the referee’s integrity. In a thrilling match, Son Heung-min opened the scoring on six minutes before the Spurs captain’s own goal equalised three minutes later. City took the lead via Phil Foden, Giovani Lo Celso levelled after the break, Grealish made it 3-2, and Dejan Kulusevski’s goal shared the points.
Ange Postecoglou indicated he was unhappy at half-time. Asked by Sky Sports to elaborate on what he had said, the Spurs manager replied: “There would probably only be a few words I can say. Joking aside, it was more trying to get the players to believe in themselves rather than anger at them.”