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19th Feb 2018

Pep should be embarrassed about his red card reaction

He can't have it both ways

Wayne Farry

It was not a good look.

Pep Guardiola has made it his personal mission this season to call attention to the number of dangerous tackles that players get away with on a regular basis.

While he got some stick from those who appear willing to die rather than see an end to potentially leg breaking challenges, he was right in what he said. Skillful players are rarely given enough protection by referees, and while the number of serious injuries from these types of tackles are uncommon, it’s usually dependent on whether a player’s foot plants in the ground or not.

After watching Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane get kicked from limb to limb against Spurs, Palace and Cardiff, he called for officials to start protecting players from similar treatment.

“They [officials] have to protect the players. Not my players. All players” –¬†Pep Guardiola – January 28th, 2018

In light of these comments, it was jarring to witness his furious reaction to Fabian Delph’s red card against Wigan this evening, as he confronted the Latics’ manager Paul Cook both before and after the half-time whistle.

Now, no one was expecting Pep to shake the referee’s hand and thank him for doing his job, but this display of somewhat weird aggression seemed utterly at odds with what he’s preached for the majority of the season.

The referee, after all, had done exactly what Pep had asked officials to do. Delph’s tackle – which some say was a red and others a yellow – was dangerous and reckless. Anthony Taylor, having seen the challenge, (eventually) deemed it worthy of a sending off.

Whether it was actually a red card or not is pretty irrelevant. The entire point of Pep’s message to officials was that the game needs to be made safer for players. That means clamping down on tackles like Delph’s before an escalation of what’s acceptable leads to someone getting injured.

Pep would no doubt be saying the same if it was his player on the receiving end, he can’t have it both ways.