Pep Guardiola hits out at 'unsustainable' schedule after Manchester City reach FA Cup final

Pep Guardiola hits out at 'unsustainable' schedule after Manchester City reach FA Cup final

By Paul Martin, Sportsbeat

Pep Guardiola hit out at an ‘unsustainable’ schedule after his Manchester City side beat Chelsea 1-0 to reach the FA Cup final at Wembley.

Bernardo Silva’s late strike settled a tight encounter in which Chelsea had the better of the chances, Nicolas Jackson spurning three presentable opportunities before the Portuguese midfielder’s killer blow.

City played 120 minutes against Real Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday night before going out on penalties and Guardiola hit out at the fact his side were in action again on Saturday evening.

“I love to be in the quarter-finals of the Champions League and semi-finals of the FA Cup but I don’t understand how we played today,” he said.

“Why not give us one more day for the players to arrive on Sunday? Coventry, Chelsea and Manchester United didn’t play midweek. It is unacceptable to play when we did. It is unsustainable.

“We are incredibly proud but I just want to protect my players. For the players, it is unacceptable.

“I’m not asking for something special or a privilege, it’s common sense. For seven years, we play every three days, we don’t complain. I know they (authorities) don’t care but I care. I don’t want any more meetings, I don’t have time.”

City survived several spells of Chelsea pressure in each half, most notably in the 49th minute when Stefan Ortega kept out Jackson’s low cross and then the Senegalese striker’s close-range header within a matter of seconds.

Cole Palmer fired a free-kick narrowly wide against his former club but the introduction of Jeremy Doku helped turn the game in City’s favour.

The winger played a role in the winner, setting Kevin De Bruyne away down the left for the low cross which was deflected into Silva’s path. Having missed a penalty in the shootout in midweek, Silva held his nerve with the gilt-edged chance on this occasion to send the holders through.

“The game was tight, Chelsea had chances,” Guardiola added. “We were tired, some players made an incredible effort.

“What they have done today is one of the greatest efforts I have seen from a group of players.”

For Chelsea, this was another gut-wrenching end to a Wembley trip following defeat against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final earlier in the season.

It means they will end Mauricio Pochettino’s first season in charge without a trophy but the Blues boss remained upbeat about how his side are progressing.

“I am happy in the way we are evolving,” he said.

“We are disappointed but we need to assess the team in a different way and not compare with Chelsea’s history. We need to be ambitious and think how we can be better next season.

“I cannot say we were the better side, in football that is hard to judge, but the most important thing is we competed.

“Now we have to finish the season in the best way.”