Pep Guardiola fury at ‘unacceptable’ BBC and FA after Man City’s three-day turnaround

Pep Guardiola hits out at 'unacceptable' BBC and FA after Man City's three-day turnaround
Pep Guardiola was furious at the fixture scheduling - Getty Images/Michael Regan

Pep Guardiola launched a fierce attack on the scheduling of Manchester City’s FA Cup semi-final, branding it “unacceptable” after watching his team book their place in the final by beating Chelsea.

Manchester City manager Guardiola even suggested he will now turn down any requests from broadcasters to do extra media activity in protest, but said it would be pointless to discuss his complaints with any of football’s governing bodies.

A late Bernardo Silva goal was enough to give City victory at Wembley on Saturday, just three days after their Champions League penalty shootout defeat by Real Madrid.

Manchester United, who did not play in Europe in midweek, play their semi-final against Coventry City on Sunday, and Guardiola said: “I’m incredibly happy to play the semi-final of the FA Cup. I love to be in the quarter-final of the Champions League, but I don’t understand. It’s for the health of the players. I don’t understand how we survived today.

“Why not give us one more day to arrive on Sunday because Coventry and United didn’t play in midweek. For broadcasters? OK. Don’t ask me after to do extra things because we won’t do it. It’s unacceptable to play today.

“What they have done today is one of the greatest things I have seen from a group of players. 120 minutes against Real, you can prepare absolutely nothing. Four hours to arrive here and play the game in these conditions. I don’t understand how we survived.”

Pep Guardiola hits out at 'unacceptable' BBC and FA after Man City's three-day turnaround
Pep Guardiola vented his frustrations to the BBC's Gary Lineker - Getty Images/Michael Regan

Asked if City had requested to swap their semi-final tie to Sunday when the fixtures were announced, Guardiola said: “The club was late. You have to call before. In this country, they don’t change anything. If I pretend it will change next season, it won’t happen.

“But don’t ask me to make meetings. I’m busy. I have to prepare games every three days. If you don’t have the sensitivity of the players. If United played in the Champions League, I would understand completely but why not give us one more day? But it’s not going to change. Next season when we play in the Champions League, hopefully we will qualify, it is the same week as the Carabao Cup. How are we going to play? Will we play EDS (Elite Development Squad players) in the Carabao Cup?

“After next season, we go to the Club World Cup. We are incredibly happy, a lot of money, incredibly prestigious. But how many days do I give off to the players? It’s unsustainable. We have to perform for the fans, for the prestige of the club. How? I don’t have anything to say to the players. We can talk to Uefa, Fifa. Yeah, yeah yeah, OK, OK, OK, OK. More World Cups, more teams. It’s fine. I’m incredibly happy [to be in the final], but I just want to protect my players. I don’t have to run. I do this for the players – it is unacceptable.”

City’s victory was shown by the BBC, with presenter Gary Lineker offering an apology to Guardiola for the broadcaster’s role in scheduling the semi-finals. Sunday’s clash between United and Coventry will be shown by ITV.

But Guardiola added: “I’m right. It’s common sense. I’m not asking for a special privilege. We don’t complain about the schedule, we play every three days for seven years. But I want to protect my players. We started in conditions that were a risk for injuries and health. I know they don’t care, but I care. I want to protect them. I don’t want any more meetings. I don’t go because I have a game in three days, so I don’t have time to attend meetings. What they decide, we will do.”

Guardiola was not the only one to hit out at the scheduling on Saturday night, as Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta echoed his calls for greater player protection.

“It’s not about us, Pep or myself, it’s about the well-being of the players,” Arteta said. “Especially when you are competing in European competition, everything has to be competed in the same way.

“You cannot have a team that hasn’t played for seven days or three days before and has more recovery time and you have to play in the Premier League or the FA Cup.

“It is not right. If you look at it any angle it’s not right. If you want to protect and you always talk about the players and the protagonists, let’s protect them and think about them and do everything we can to give them the maximum time so they can recover and they can maintain the show they put on every week.”

Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino blamed a lack of a clinical edge for his team’s defeat, but also felt they should have been awarded a penalty for an incident in the second half that VAR checked for a handball against Jack Grealish.

“Jesus (Perez, Pochettino’s assistant) and my staff said it was a penalty,” said Pochettino. “I did not blame the referee. I said to him ‘why not go to check the penalty on the TV?’ From what I saw after, I think (nods), but move on.”

Bernardo accuses Football Association of not caring about players

Bernardo Silva has accused the Football Association of not caring about the welfare of players in a blistering attack on the “unacceptable” scheduling of City’s FA Cup semi-final.

The City midfielder said he was left fearing for his own fitness after his 84th-minute goal saw off Chelsea at Wembley and kept alive his side’s hopes of a Premier League and Cup Double.

“The way this team reacts is always really good, once again we showed character and that no matter what happened we stick together and go for it – even if we didn’t play on a level field because the FA didn’t give us a chance to recover,” the City midfielder said.

“Which, in my opinion, is not reasonable at all. I’m just saying because we won. If we didn’t win, I wouldn’t say because I don’t like to find excuses. But I don’t think it’s acceptable we had to play [on Saturday].

“It’s too much – [this] was too much. We played 120 minutes less than three days ago and we had to play against a team [Chelsea] that didn’t travel because they’re from London.

“And they had five days waiting for us and thinking about our game. There’s no excuse for the game to not be Sunday. It’s not acceptable. For all of us as a team that’s how we feel.”

Bernardo Silva
Bernardo Silva scored the winner, but like his manager Guardiola was unimpressed with the scheduling of the match - Action Images/Paul Childs

Bernardo, who had to overcome the emotional heartbreak of missing a penalty in the shoot-out defeat to Real as well as the physical challenges of playing again so soon, said he feared he was going to break down against Chelsea and questioned if the authorities care.

This was the fourth season in a row that City have played a Cup semi-final on a Saturday after playing the second leg of a Champions League last eight tie on a Wednesday.

Asked if he felt such controversial scheduling would ever change, Bernardo, whose side are back in action at Brighton in the Premier League on Thursday, said: “I don’t know. It looks like they don’t care because we’ve said it many times.

“It’s not about wanting to be favourites, it’s about health. I played 90 minutes today. Me, Kevin [De Bruyne], Phil [Foden]. I wasn’t fine at all. I wasn’t fine.

“I’ll be honest, I was feeling my left hamstring and my right calf. This is not fair for Man City, for us. When I say Man City, maybe other clubs went through it, this is just our personal experience.

“They have to pay more attention to these details. We represent England in these European competitions and it’s important for England, for this country, for other clubs to qualify for the Champions League, Europa League, Europa Conference League. So they need to pay more attention.”

The FA say they have to balance the needs of the clubs, local authorities, police and broadcasters and that all Cup ties are scheduled collaboratively. It was also pointed out that Chelsea have a re-arranged Premier League game against Arsenal on Tuesday.