Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has launched an astonishing attack on Swedish referee Jonas Eriksson following the first leg of his side’s Champions league round of 16 match against Barcelona.
Pellegrini clearly felt aggrieved at Eriksson’s decision to send off defender Martin Demichelis early in the second half of Tuesday night’s clash, and labelled the decision to appoint the Swede a ‘mistake’ due to his failure to award Barcelona a penalty in their last 16 match against AC Milan 12 months ago.
The former Malaga boss also claimed that the referee ‘decided the game’ and believed that City were unfortunate not to ‘have a referee with impartiality to both teams.’
This shocking outburst is likely to lead to Pellegrini receiving a heavy sanction from UEFA, after then Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho received a five-match ban for a similar outburst last season.
Furthermore, the attack is even more astonishing due to the fact that Eriksson seemed to be correct in sending off Demichelis and awarding a penalty which was duly converted by Lionel Messi.
Demichelis appeared to get little of the ball, bringing down Messi who was in a clear goalscoring position, and although the initial foul appeared slightly outside the area, the continuation of the foul into the box justified the Eriksson’s decision to award a penalty.
Manchester City were then forced to play out the remainder of the match with only ten men, and subsequently conceded a second goal when Dani Alves nutmegged Joe Hart in the closing stages of the match.
Pellegrini also made the slightly bizarre claim that Barcelona ‘didn’t create a single chance in the match’ on Spanish television after the game.
This claim appears to be totally unjustified when looking at the statistics of the game.
Barcelona enjoyed 68% of possession and had more shots both on and off target than the home side. They also completed 753 passes to City’s 325 in what was a comprehensive victory for the Catalan side.
Manchester City fought valiantly and were perhaps unlucky not to restrict Barcelona to a single goal advantage, but now face a tough test to overturn a two goal deficit at the Nou Camp in three weeks time.
Pellegrini was downbeat when asked about his side’s chances but promised they would do their uttermost to rescue the tie and salvage their Champions League dreams.
Unfortunately, with his controversial comments this evening, Pellegrini has done more to harm his team’s chances by risking the wrath of UEFA’s governing body in the weeks to come.