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Watch: Guardiola slams ‘unacceptable’ health risks as Man. City reach FA Cup final

Pep Guardiola slammed the “unacceptable” schedule that put fatigued Manchester City’s health at risk in their 1-0 win against Chelsea in an FA Cup semi-final scheduled just three days after their gruelling Champions League exit.

Guardiola was furious that the Football Association and television broadcasters set City’s semi-final for Saturday instead of giving them an extra day to recover after Wednesday’s penalty shoot-out loss to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Exhausted City were fortunate to survive a series of Chelsea misses at Wembley before Bernardo Silva’s 84th minute winner atoned for his penalty blunder in the shoot-out against Real.

Guardiola took aim at the authorities for putting his players’ futures in danger when they could have played Manchester United’s semi-final against Coventry on Saturday instead of Sunday because neither club was in European action this week.

“I’m incredibly happy to play the semi-finals of the FA Cup. I love to be in the quarter-final of the Champions League. But it’s unacceptable to let us play today,” Guardiola said.

“It is impossible for the health of the players. People don’t understand the punch in the face after losing in the Champions League and playing here so soon.

“Why they don’t give us one more day? Chelsea, Manchester United and Coventry don’t play in the Champions League. It is for broadcasters? Ok don’t ask me to do extra things (for them).”

Guardiola insisted he would not speak to the sport’s governing bodies about his complaint because he is convinced they will not listen.

“I’m right, right? I’m not asking for some special privilege. It is a risk for their health, it is a risk for many things. I know they (the authorities) don’t care, but I care,” he said.

“In this country it is not going to change anything. I know it. They don’t have the sensitivity to the players. Don’t ask me to have meetings with the Premier League and the FA. I don’t go. I’m preparing the players.”

Guardiola’s rant was sparked by the obvious lethargy running through his side as they struggled to impose themselves against Chelsea.

‘Protect my players’

Erling Haaland was sidelined by an injury sustained against Real, while Jack Grealish came off injured at Wembley and Rodri and Kyle Walker played through fitness issues.

City are back in action at Brighton in the Premier League on Thursday as they chase an unprecedented fourth successive title.

“After 120 minutes after Madrid, physically and emotionally, what they have done today is one of the most incredible things I have seen. We didn’t have time to prepare anything,” Guardiola said.

“Mentally it’s so tough to recover. Rodri, the way he played today, Kyle Walker, who was injured for a few weeks. How we survived I don’t know.

“I just want to protect my players. I do this for my players. It is unsustainable.

“We want to play football. We love to play football but it’s too much.”

While City eye the double, Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino had to come to terms with a second loss at Wembley in a troubled first season in charge.

Beaten 1-0 by an inexperienced Liverpool line-up in the League Cup final in February, Chelsea once again paid for key misses, with Nicolas Jackson guilty of three woeful finishes.

“The most important thing is to be clinical and not concede. Even if we competed well, I cannot say we were the better side,” Pochettino said.

“We need to assess after nearly 10 months then take the decisions to improve in different areas and reduce the gap to teams like Manchester City.

“We are disappointed because the team is not matching the history of the club but we need to assess it in a different way.

“The evolution is good with all the circumstances but we need to be better next season.”

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