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Guardiola denounces ‘unacceptable’ health risks as Man City reach the FA Cup final

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The manager insisted he would not speak to the sport’s governing bodies about his complaint as they would not listen


Pep Guardiola slammed the ‘unacceptable’ schedule that put Manchester City’s weary health at risk in their 1-0 win against Chelsea in the FA Cup semi-final, just three days after their grueling Champions League exit.

Guardiola was furious that the Football Association and television networks had set City’s semi-final for Saturday instead of giving them an extra day to recover after Wednesday’s penalty shootout loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Depleted City were lucky to survive a series of Chelsea misses at Wembley before Bernardo Silva’s 84th-minute winner atoned for his penalty blunder in the shoot-out against Real.

Guardiola hit out at the authorities for jeopardizing the future of his players when they could have played Manchester United’s semi-final against Coventry on Saturday instead of Sunday as neither club was in European action this week.

“I am incredibly happy to be playing in the semi-finals of the FA Cup. I am thrilled to be in the quarter-finals of the Champions League. But it is unacceptable to let us play today,” Guardiola said.

“It’s impossible for the health of the players. People don’t understand the slap in the face after losing in the Champions League and playing here so quickly.”

“Why don’t they give us another day? Chelsea, Manchester United and Coventry don’t play in the Champions League. It’s for the broadcasters? OK, don’t ask me to do extra things (for them).”

Guardiola insisted he would not speak to the sport’s governing bodies about his complaint as he is convinced they will not listen.

“I’m right, right? I’m not asking for any special privilege. It’s a risk to their health, it’s a risk to many things. I know they (the authorities) don’t care, but I do do care,” he said.

“It’s not going to change anything in this country. I know. They don’t have the sensitivity for the players. Don’t ask me to have meetings with the Premier League and the FA. I’m not going. I’m preparing the players.”

Guardiola’s tirade was fueled by the obvious lethargy running through his side as they struggled to impose themselves on Chelsea.

Erling Haaland was sidelined with an injury sustained against Real, while Jack Grealish returned home injured at Wembley and Rodri and Kyle Walker played with fitness problems.

City are back in action against Brighton in the Premier League on Thursday and are chasing an unprecedented fourth title in a row.

“After 120 minutes after Madrid, what they did today, physically and emotionally, is one of the most incredible things I have seen. We had no time to prepare anything,” Guardiola said.

“Mentally it’s so difficult to recover. Rodri, the way he played today, Kyle Walker, who was injured for a few weeks. How we survived, I don’t know.

“I just want to protect my players. I do this for my players. It’s unsustainable.

“We want to play football. We love to play football, but it’s too much.”

As City eyed the double, Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino had to come to terms with a second defeat at Wembley in a troubled first season in charge.

Chelsea were beaten 1-0 in the League Cup final by an inexperienced Liverpool line-up in February and were once again made to pay for key misses, with Nicolas Jackson guilty of three woeful finishes.

“The most important thing is to be clinical and not give in. Even if we competed well, I can’t say we were the better side,” Pochettino said.

“We have to make an assessment after almost ten months and then make the decisions to improve in different areas and reduce the gap with teams like Manchester City.

“We are disappointed because the team does not match the club’s history, but we have to assess it in a different way.

“The evolution is good under all circumstances, but we have to be better next season.”