Pep Guardiola says he will accept his punishment if UEFA hit him with a touchline ban for being sent to the stands in Manchester City’s Champions League defeat by Liverpool – but insists he will not change.
The City boss was dismissed at half-time at the Etihad on Tuesday night for remonstrating with Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz after he disallowed Leroy Sane’s legitimate effort for offside.
Guardiola had to watch the second half from the directors’ box as City slipped to a 5-1 aggregate defeat, and now faces a touchline ban in Europe next season when his case his heard by a UEFA disciplinary panel on May 31.
Pep Guardiola insists he will accept any ban given to him by UEFA after his touchline antics
Guardiola was sent to the stands for arguing with the referee as the half-time whistle blew
The 47-year-old admitted that it would be better if he didn’t react in the same way in future but insisted that he will always defend his players in the face of injustice.
‘It would be better but I am who I am,’ said Guardiola. ‘I have passion. I try to defend my team and club. I have to defend my team. They deserve that they don’t feel they are alone.
‘In the moment, I said what I said. It was a good goal. I didn’t want to talk to him. He told me, “you say that in the locker room it’s okay, but not on the pitch in front of the spectators”. That’s the difference.
‘Sometimes the referee sees body language that’s not correct. We saw how good we were doing – 2-0 is completely different. But the referees is the boss. I will accept the punishment and next season we’ll start without the manager there.
Guardiola continued to communicate with his bench after being sent to the Etihad stands
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‘It’s better for me to be there, I cannot deny that. I prefer to be with my players than my chairman but it’s the decision of the referee.’
The defeat was City’s third in a week following their failure to clinch the Premier League title in the Manchester derby, and Guardiola’s side face a difficult game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday.
To make matters worse, Sergio Aguero may struggle to play again this season after aggravating a knee injury when he was flattened by Ashley Young in the derby and again when he made a 24-minute appearance off the bench in the second leg against Liverpool.
‘I don’t know about Swansea (next week) if he’ll be ready, but hopefully for the last games if we need him and especially for the World Cup,’ said Guardiola.
‘We cannot forget he was one month injured. He made a huge effort because with the knee problem he couldn’t train after the action from Ashley Young against United. He played the last 20 minutes (against Liverpool) and after the game he said “I cannot run, I have a lot of pain.
‘He couldn’t play from the beginning. People talked about it but he was not ready. (John) Stones isn’t ready, Fernandinho is suspended, and (Benjamin) Mendy out. It is what it is. Everyone has been almost ready this season, now we have problems in terms of some players.’ G
uardiola admitted that he will have to lift the players for the final six game of the season after the worst run of his City reign.
He was furious with Antonio Mateu Lahoz after Leroy Sane had a goal incorrectly disallowed
‘You judge results,’ he added. ‘But after Liverpool, the way we played against United was tough, the way we started against Liverpool was tough. They are magnificent players. I’m sad, we all are sad. They know I am there to support them until the last moment.
‘Everything can happen. People say we are already champions but we’ve lost three in a row and we can lose again. We lost but it’s part of the game. All teams lose games.
‘Now we have six games to play – 18 points to play for and we need five. Tottenham is what it is. We are going to try to take points.
‘We must try to be who we were during the season. We’re 13 points ahead plus (a better) goal difference and we deserve to be there. We’d won the last five games before United. it’s just thinking about the strength of Tottenham. We need two wins, and when we win the first one the second will be easier.
‘But Tottenham are fantastic. Great players like (Moussa) Dembele, (Jan) Vertonghen, (Dele) Alli, playing great with a lot of success. It’s going to be difficult for us.’
Sergio Aguero may struggle to play again this season after aggravating a knee injury