English Premiership

Pellegrini sorry for ref rant

2014-02-21 16:42
Manuel Pellegrini (File)

Manchester - Manchester City manager Manuel Pellegrini has apologised for his comments about the referee after his side's 2-0 Champions League defeat by Barcelona on Tuesday, although he maintains Jonas Eriksson did play a role in the eventual outcome.

Pellegrini questioned the impartiality of Sweden's Eriksson and accused him of deciding the outcome of the last-16 first leg match.

"When you lose a game the way we lost against Barcelona, you are frustrated, you are angry," he told a news conference on Friday ahead of his side's Premier League match against Stoke City.

"Maybe I said something but I don't think that way. I want to apologise for what I said.

"I didn't say he was a bad referee, that he was not honest, that he cannot referee in UEFA, that was the first thing I want to clarify.

"I felt from the beginning his criteria was not the same for both teams, 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."

Governing body UEFA launched an investigation into the Chilean's comments on Thursday, ahead of potential disciplinary proceedings.

City fell behind early in the second half when Eriksson awarded a penalty for a foul by Martin Demichelis on fellow Argentine Lionel Messi on the edge of the box and the defender was sent off.

There were suggestions a City player had been fouled before the incident.

The normally mild-mannered Pellegrini said in a post-match news conference: "The referee was not impartial. He did not have any control of the game. I think it was not a good idea to have a referee from Sweden in such an important match."

He also said the referee should not be in charge of Barcelona games as he was involved in a controversial match between the Spanish side and AC Milan a year ago.

"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," Pellegrini added.

"I am sure this is a good referee because UEFA are 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."

Looking ahead to Saturday's visit of 14th-placed Stoke, Pellegrini said captain Vincent Kompany should be fit to play and that striker Sergio Aguero should return to full training on Tuesday.

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