Manuel Pellegrini denies making 'any serious accusations to anyone' in post-match tirade, but says sorry for comments in aftermatch of Manchester City defeat to Barcelona

The Chilean appeared to accuse the Swedish referee of not being impartial during the Champions League tie

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The Independent Football

Manuel Pellegrini has defended his outburst following Manchester City’s 2-0 defeat to Barcelona on Tuesday, although he does concede that he went too far and has apologised for his comments aimed at referee Jonas Eriksson.

The Chilean is likely to face further action from Uefa following his post-match rant in which he questioned the integrity of Eriksson by claiming he was “not impartial” in his decision making, before also criticising that a referee from Sweden had been appointed to the Champions League last-16 first leg.

Eriksson awarded Barcelona a penalty when Martin Demichelis brought down Lionel Messi as he charged towards the City goal, but Pellegrini was left incensed with the dismissal after the initial contact began outside of the box. However, according to the rule book, if contact that initiates outside of the area continues as the two players move into it, a penalty should be awarded, and Pellegrini has now admitted that he may have gone overboard in his criticism of Eriksson.

“When you lose a game the way we lost against Barcelona, you are frustrated, you are angry,” Pellegrini admitted.


“Maybe I said some things I didn't mean so I apologise for what I said.

“Also I want to clarify what I said, I didn't make any serious accusations to anyone, not to the referee, not to UEFA, not to anyone.

“I always say refereeing is a very difficult profession because they have only have a fraction of a second and after people compare their decisions with eight television cameras.

“It is not my way to act to criticise the referee, but in that case it was not a good day and he decided the game - but not with the intention to benefit Barcelona or damage Manchester City. He was in a bad day with very bad luck.”

Pellegrini faces Uefa charge

The City manager did reiterate that he was not happy with the performance of the 39-year-old Swede, claiming he had a “bad day” in which he criticised his performance from start to finish.

“I felt from the beginning his criteria was not the same for both teams,” Pellegrini continued.

“I think he had a bad day - everyone can have a bad day - but I didn't say that intentionally he didn't give fouls for us or did give fouls for Barcelona.

“I said from the beginning it was not the same criteria. I repeat, a bad day, not dishonest.”

What caused Pellegrini to explode so shamefully?

He then attempted to back-track on his criticisms that someone who is used to refereeing in the Swedish league was allowed to take charge of such a high-profile match, using the example of world class striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic to prove that a good player – and good referee – can come from a nation whose domestic league is not widely received as the most competitive.

“To say because he was always refereeing in the Swedish league, and that maybe it was better for so important a game to have another kind of referee - it is another thing I didn't think,” Peelegrini claimed.

“It is not an offence to Sweden or the Swedish people or referees.

“Sweden is a country that has a lot of good players, they have one of the best in the world in Zlatan Ibrahimovic and it can also have a good referee.

“I am sure this is a good referee because UEFA is always evaluating all the referees and if he is not a good referee, he is not in the UEFA staff.

“The thing I said in that moment doesn't mean what I think.

“I didn't say any serious accusation about Sweden, just that it was not the most important league in Europe and that is not an offence, I think.”

Finally, Pellegrini attempted to lessen the effect his comments had when claiming that Eriksson was trying to right a wrong, after giving a controversial decision against the Catalan side during their group stage fixture with AC Milan.

City must play Wigan just three days before Barca

The 60-year-old claimed he was thinking out loud in regards to what he said, and that his comments weren’t an attack on Uefa nor Eriksson himself, but more of a self-observation.

“The third thing I said was that it was not a good idea that a referee that damaged Barcelona against Milan to referee the game, because if the same thing happened in the Barcelona box and Barcelona lost the game 1-0 with that penalty and one player sent off, all around Barcelona they would say the same referee did it again,” he explained.

“It is my idea. I am not in charge of referees. I think it is important managers do what they have to do, the referees do what they have to do and the staff in charge of deciding the referees do what they have to do.

“I repeat, I didn't have any serious accusation, not against UEFA, not against the referee, not against Sweden, not against anyone.

“So it was my way of thinking and I was angry.”