Manuel Pellegrini’s apology for his outburst against referee Jonas Eriksson has not spared him a Uefa disciplinary charge.
The European governing body announced the opening of proceedings against the Manchester City manager last night, hours after he had backtracked on his comments following their 2-0 loss to Barcelona in the Champions League on Tuesday night.
“Following an investigation by the Uefa disciplinary inspector, Uefa has today opened disciplinary proceedings against Manuel Luis Pellegrini concerning the press interviews given to media after the above-mentioned match,” a Uefa statement said.
“The case will be dealt with by the Uefa control and disciplinary body on Friday 28 February.”
In his post-match press conference on Tuesday night, Pellegrini launched an astonishing attack on the official, claiming Eriksson was “not impartial”, suggesting he was trying to make amends for previous perceived injustices against Barca and questioning why a Swedish referee was appointed to the fixture.
The 60-year-old was upset after the match at the Etihad Stadium hinged on a controversial penalty conceded by Martin Demichelis, who was consequently sent off.
Yesterday, Pellegrini expressed regret over the outburst and tried to tone down his remarks, albeit too late to change Uefa’s mind.
Pellegrini said: “When you lose a game the way we lost against Barcelona, you are frustrated, you are angry.
“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.
“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 did not contest Demichelis’ contentious foul on Lionel Messi, but claimed it occurred outside the box and that Jesus Navas was fouled in the build-up.
He has not changed those views but accepts he said too much after the game, having been thinking aloud in the heat of the moment.
Pellegrini said of the official: “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.”
The defeat leaves City facing a monumental task to reach the Champions League quarter-finals when they travel to the Nou Camp for the second leg in three weeks’ time.
Not surprisingly, talk of the quadruple has also subsided but Pellegrini insists the players will not be badly affected as they host Stoke in the Premier League this weekend.
Pellegrini said: “They are absolutely clear in their minds that we are fighting for the Premier League.
“I don’t think there will be a psychological link between one competition and the other.”
Stoke have enjoyed some notable scalps against the Premier League’s finest this season and manager Mark Hughes hopes they can get another today.
The Potters boss said: “We’ve had really positive results against the top teams this year, beating Chelsea and Manchester United, drawing with City, which very few teams have been able to accomplish, so we were pleased with that performance at the Britannia.
“We’ll have to match that and maybe go somewhere a little bit more as well.”
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