Mauricio Pochettino apologised for his meltdown at the end of Chelsea’s 4-4 draw with Manchester City at Stamford Bridge as he saluted the burgeoning mental strength of his team.
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The Chelsea manager raged at the referee, Anthony Taylor – who had earlier given City a controversial penalty for 1-0 – after he blew for full time rather than for a foul by Mateo Kovacic on Raheem Sterling. Pochettino, who had to be held back from Taylor and was shown a yellow card, felt that Sterling might have been able to get away for a last-gasp chance.
Pep Guardiola, the City manager, waited for Pochettino to shake hands with him. It did not happen as his rival contended with the red mist.
“I need to apologise to Anthony and the [assistant] referees and the fourth official,” Pochettino said. “In this moment, I feel that maybe Raheem can go through and go to score the fifth and when the game finishes, I turn and say: ‘What the … ?’
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“I said: ‘Why stop in this moment, the action?’ Then I turned and said: ‘I deserve to be booked.’ Because I crossed the limit so I want to apologise because it’s not a good image for me and for football, this type of behaviour.”
Guardiola said he had zero problem with the lack of a handshake with Pochettino. “No, it’s not a problem,” he said. “I don’t want to talk one word about that. It’s fine. Everyone, the emotions, it happens to me sometimes. I don’t want you to misunderstand me … when the past, it [things] happened with Pochettino. It’s completely, completely fine.”
Pochettino said: “I want to apologise to him [Guardiola] also because in this moment I didn’t see [him waiting]. Only I was focused on this action.”
Chelsea have now drawn against Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester City and won at Tottenham. “We showed character, mentality,” Pochettino said. “We showed that we also have tools – against a team like City – to dominate and create chances. We are still far away in terms of the table. But now there is a different noise in the stadium and this kind of performance we can really use for the future.”
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Guardiola said: “If you expect everyone to come here and win 0-7 then you are wrong. Do you know what Chelsea have done [to build this team]? In the past it was City, City, City who have done that. Chelsea is Chelsea, one of the great teams in the past 25 years. I know how good they are. For us, it was a good test. We take a good point. It was a fair result.”
Pochettino said Levi Colwill had missed the game because of a shoulder injury. The defender is expected to withdraw from the England squad for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia.