“I said many times: the only thing they [referees] have to do is protect the players. Please protect the players. Not the Manchester City players, [all] the players…”
These were the words of Pep Guardiola after he watched on as an atrocious challenge from Cardiff’s Joe Bennett almost shattered Leroy Sane’s leg during a January FA Cup fixture.
It was the second time in as many months that the former Barcelona coach had seen severe roughhousing tactics deployed against his side as, shortly before Christmas, two shocking challenges from Harry Kane and Dele Alli looked as if they could have left both Kevin de Bruyne and Raheem Sterling with severe injuries.
Fortunately, that wasn’t the case but, given the ferociously reckless nature of the challenges, Guardiola had every right to feel aggrieved. It was odd then to see his reaction when Fabian Delph put in a similarly rash and frankly dangerous tackle during City’s clash with Wigan on Monday night.
— Top Tackles (@TopTackles) February 19, 2018
After calling for refs to act on bad tackles, I hope Pep doesn’t complain about that Delph red card. Red all day long.
— Mark Ogden (@MarkOgden_) February 19, 2018
Delph is a stone wall Red card.. sliding with your studs showing and very high .. it’s a potential leg breaker.. 20 years ago deemed a good tackle not allowed in today’s game. Accept it move on.
— John Hartson (@JohnHartson10) February 19, 2018
Instead of accepting what was without question a correct decision from referee Anthony Taylor, Guardiola was seen explosively ranting and charging at multiple individuals (including the referee) in the tunnel during the halftime break.
Given his pleas for player protection just weeks ago, the hypocrisy of the Manchester City manager’s conduct on Monday night is hard to really wrap one’s head around.
Pep Guardiola and Paul Cook arguing in the tunnel and Pep charging at the referee before the camera cuts away pic.twitter.com/Rr9eZbc3A9
— BeanymanSports (@BeanymanSports) February 19, 2018
Guardiola is a hypocrite. That’s the exact type of tackle he’s been campaigning for the FA/Premier League to protect his players against.
— Richard Amofa (@_RichardAmofa) February 19, 2018
Football fans are often slated for their conspiracy theories regarding ‘biased officiating’ and FA agendas against ‘their’ club. However, when it comes to Guardiola’s conduct and the constant insistence of the powers that be to look the other way, one has to wonder if the so-called conspiracy theorists have a legitimate case on this occasion.
Last September, Jose Mourinho was sent off for a moment which saw his toes crossing onto the field of play during Manchester United’s 1-0 victory at St Mary’s.
In the wake of pep guardiola’s misdemeanor and the possible inaction by the @FA here’s a throwback of Jose mourinho getting sent off for a toe crossing the line against Southampton earlier in the season pic.twitter.com/nS6FizFcP2
— KAVI. (@blurt2kc) February 20, 2018
In December, this is how Pep Guardiola celebrated a late goal from Raheem Sterling against the very same opposition.
Although the game was not finished during Guardiola’s wild and lengthy pitch invasion, no action was taken against the Spanish coach by the referee officiating the fixture or the FA in reviewing his conduct.
Pep Guardiola: Heated arguement with player & pitch side celebrations vs Southampton in December, shoves referee in tunnel during half time of game against Wigan, likely to be overlooked by the FA.
Meanwhile on the other side of Manchester: pic.twitter.com/X46iLNilgy
— LJ™ (@RealTalkUnited) February 19, 2018
In the moments that followed the very same fixture, Guardiola was also involved in a rather heated exchange with Southampton’s Nathan Redmond at full time. However, once again, the Spaniard received absolutely no reprimanding.
There will be those who scoff at suggestions of special treatment for Guardiola but, with even the slightest bit of objective reflection, they should quickly realise that something isn’t right here.
Just imagine the media and the FA’s reaction had it been Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger who was seen conducting themselves in the manner that Guardiola did on Monday night.
Something is truly rotten in the state of Denmark.
John Murphy, Pundit Arena