Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has refused to blame his players after the runaway English Premier League leaders were knocked out of the English FA Cup by third-tier Wigan Athletic.
Monday’s 1-0 fifth round defeat at the DW Stadium was like a repeat of the 2012-13 final match won by Wigan when the Latics were in the top tier.
However, it ended Manchester City’s hopes of an unprecedented league and Cup quadruple this season.
“Congratulations to Wigan for the qualification,” Guardiola, whose team was reduced to 10 men at half-time, said.
“We did absolutely everything. We made a mistake and this kind of game is like a final. OK, we accept the defeat,” added the Spaniard.
“Wigan won, congratulations to them and now we rest to prepare for the League Cup final.”
Manchester City are to face Arsenal in the final of that competition at Wembley next Sunday.
They were overwhelming favourites against opponents fighting for promotion from League One.
But Manchester City were always wary of Wigan’s proud reputation as a ‘bogey team’ in the world’s oldest and most romantic domestic cup competition.
Apart from beating them in the 2013 final, Wigan had also dumped them out at the quarter-final stage of the competition at the Etihad Stadium a season later.
That was just as Manchester City were heading for the league title under Manuel Pellegrini.
They started with their Argentine top scorer Sergio Aguero, and had Belgian midfielder Kevin De Bruyne waiting on the bench.
But neither were able to make the most of their side’s dominant possession.
In the end, the match turned on the sending-off of Fabian Delph on the stroke of half-time with the Manchester City midfielder shown a controversial red card for a sliding tackle.
His team mates crowded around the referee in protest, but it was all in vain.
Wigan’s prolific goalscorer Will Grigg then fired in a 79th minute winner.
However, in spite of his obvious anger at the time, Guardiola steered clear of criticism of the official after the final whistle.
“Red card. It was the decision,” he said.
“They had one shot on target, I don’t have regrets with the way we played, the performance, the heart,” continued the manager.
“I judge my players on intentions and not results and the intentions were good.’’(NAN)