Pablo Zabaleta insists Roberto Mancini rumours didn't affect the Manchester City players
Manchester City defender claims a lack of passion to blame for defeat after red card shame
Sunday 12 May 2013
Defender Pablo Zabaleta highlighted a lack of passion and desire in the Manchester City side after their shock FA Cup final loss to Wigan.
Zabaleta himself created unwanted history on a dismal day for City at Wembley as he became only the third man to be sent off in a cup final as the Blues lost 1-0.
The Argentina defender, arguably City's best player this season, was dismissed for a second bookable offence after hacking down Callum McManaman moments before the unheralded Ben Watson headed a last-minute winner.
City had hoped for a consolation victory after disappointment in the Barclays Premier League title race but, after a build-up overshadowed by speculation over manager Roberto Mancini's future, they suffered one of the great cup upsets.
Zabaleta said: "It was one of those days I think.
"We tried to do our best but the team looked without passion, desire and it was difficult to find an answer why everything went wrong.
"The only thing we can say now is congratulations to Wigan, they played better than us and they deserved this."
Zabaleta denied the rumours that surfaced on the eve of the game suggesting City were lining up Malaga coach Manuel Pellegrini to replace Mancini had anything to do with the subdued performance.
The 28-year-old said: "It doesn't affect the players.
"We are now in a bad situation because when you look at the team you expect City to win a trophy.
"It was the only opportunity for us to lift a trophy and now we will see what happens in the future."
City had their moments in the first half when Yaya Toure and Carlos Tevez both forced Joel Robles into good saves.
But Wigan, belying their relegation difficulties, always looked the more penetrative and inventive side and in McManaman and Shaun Maloney had two of the most dangerous players on the pitch.
McManaman, particularly, was a handful throughout and twice went through on goal in the first half without finding a finish.
As the game wore on, City's superstars might have found a way through but Wigan's confidence did not evaporate and they sensed their moment after Zabaleta's 84th-minute dismissal.
City captain Vincent Kompany said: "We have given ourselves all the chances to win the competition but it wasn't good enough.
"We need to say congratulations to Wigan first of all. They played really well.
"We were warned when we played them at the Etihad that they were very good and it was really close between us again.
"We get a red card and then conceded at a set-piece, so you can't say they had a lot of chances but you can't say they didn't deserve it as well.
"On a better day we probably would have won it but it is a final, there is no guarantee.
"It is a goal from a corner - it is not something where you can say we looked weak.
"Nevertheless all credit to them, maybe we should have buried a goal earlier and we didn't do that.
"It is a cup final. Anyone that calls it a failure I think is a mistake, it is always an even game."
Kompany promised supporters the team would bounce back and return to Wembley to make amends for their disappointment.
City have come a long way since Sheikh Mansour's takeover in 2008, winning the FA Cup two years ago and the title in 2012, and they are sure to regroup.
Kompany said: "I think Man City fans just need to bear with us.
"We will come here again and win a lot of trophies in the future.
"We have proven it and it is just a matter of time."
While City will end the season without silverware, they still have one piece of business to finish in securing second place.
They can achieve that with victory at relegated Reading when they return to action on Tuesday.
Zabaleta said: "The manager will decide who is the best team to play in that game and we need to do our best."
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