Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola kept his beleaguered players locked in the dressing room for 45 minutes after suffering defeat against Tottenham – but revealed he hadn’t criticised their largely dominant performance.
The Spaniard endured a frustrating evening in North London despite the reigning champions dictating play, and City’s ailing campaign was further derailed after Spurs struck twice in the second half.
But after finally reappearing, Guardiola explained that he had instead simply spoken to his coaching staff, rather than held a heated inquest.
City squandered several golden opportunities to take the lead, with Sergio Aguero guilty of skewing wide from a matter of yards and Ilkay Gundogan seeing a penalty stopped by Hugo Lloris.
And after both teams reemerged from the interval, Tottenham continued to ride their luck before sensationally turning the tide of the game.
Debutant Steven Bergwijn swivelled and lashed home the hosts’ opener, just two minutes after Oleksandr Zinchenko’s clumsy dismissal, and Son Heung-min inflicted further misery with a deflected effort.
But despite the setback, Guardiola admitted to Sky Sports that he had refused to lash out at his players.
He said: ‘Never, with this performance? I was talking with my staff and my wife, and some of my players. With this performance, it would be a massive mistake to tell them how bad they are. A few times it’s happened, and it didn’t happen.’
The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona tactician also fault City’s failure to convert one of their countless openings.
‘We lost the game. We played good but we lost the game, it’s happened again,’ Guardiola added.
‘And they had two (chances) and scored two goals. I don’t have too many things to say about the performance, but this business is how many goals you score and how few you concede.
‘But it’s happened before too against United. We lost one nil and they created few chances. We had a lot and didn’t score. It’s happened and we have to accept it and work on that. Sometimes it’s not easy. We played well.’
Guardiola believes that the red card was a turning point in the clash, and even warned Zinchenko not to commit a rash foul after already being booked.
He added: ‘It was a key point, yeah. Whether you finish with 10 or 11 makes a big difference in terms of quality. We spoke about it at half time, be careful, but it’s a fast and quick action.